Manchester United are considering sending Eric Bailly out on loan next season, according to reports.
The Sun newspaper suggests that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ready to do without the 26-year-old central defender for another year.
The Ivorian international was signed for £30 million from Villarreal at the start of Jose Mourinho’s United tenure, but he has struggled to show sustained improvement and reliability due to recurrent knee problems. He has yet to play more than 38 games in a single season, and has not played more than 18 games in each of the last few seasons.
United extended Bailly’s contract in January, triggering a further two years in order to prevent the player from leaving on a free contract.
Bailly is a popular figure in the dressing room and at 26 has perhaps a decade left in his career, and United would only consider selling him if they could make back their money.
However, while United are not keen to sell the player, they are prepared to send him on loan for next season. Spanish club Valencia are happy to take him back to La Liga for part of the season at least, and may wish to take him on loan for the whole campaign.
United’s first choice pairing are Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire, while Axel Tuanzebe, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Phil Jones are all options in central defence at the moment. Chris Smalling may be an option upon his return from a loan spell at Roma though he is expected to move to the Italian side on another temporary move, if not a permanent switch.
Jones is also reportedly on the chopping block for next year meaning that he may be kept on as back-up if Bailly is loaned out, which would be an opportunity to prove his fitness.