Manchester United center back Eric Bailly has reportedly agreed to join AC Milan on loan this month, according to various reports in Italy.
Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio reported on Tuesday that the Ivorian defender has told the Rossoneri, who are looking to fill the void left in defense by injured Simon Kjaer, that he wants to join the Serie A giants this transfer window. Kjaer is sidelined for the rest of the season after receiving ACL surgery.
The report states there have been “positive signs” from Manchester United, but nothing has been finalized as negotiations between the clubs are still underway. Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano reported Wednesday that the decision will be decided in “the coming hours or days” as the Premier League side awaits a response from Milan.
Sky Sports offered a conflicting report, however, stating Wednesday that United is not interested in allowing first team players to leave on loan this month.
AC Milan is also linked to Paris Saint-Germain’s Abdou Diallo and Lille center back Sven Botman. However, Lille has issued a “hands-off warning” for the Dutch center back and Diallo will only be allowed PSG is the club decides to send him on loan, according to ESPN.
Bailly, who signed for United in 2016 for £30 million from Villarreal, has fallen out of favor at Old Trafford. Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelöf became the main center-back pairing under former manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and the arrival of World Cup and four-time Champions League winner Raphaël Varane from Real Madrid last August has only limited Bailly’s opportunities in the starting eleven.
The 27-year-old defender has only played nine matches for United in all competitions this season—three of which have come under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.
Bailly will be the third center back United allowed to leave on loan this transfer window. Axel Tuanzebe joined Serie A side Napoli in the early days of the window after a loan spell at Aston Villa, and 19-year-old Teden Mengi sealed a move to Birmingham City on Jan. 4, where he is reunited with fellow United loanee Tahith Chong.
A move to Italy for Bailly would leave Rangnick with only four senior center backs—Maguire, Lindelöf, Varane, and Phil Jones—at his disposal. Maguire has been out of form since returning from a run to the EURO 2020 final with England last summer, and Lindelöf has recently struggled to find form and was out of the team for a couple weeks due to breathing difficulties in a match against Norwich City on Dec. 11.
Jones only returned to the starting lineup on Jan 3. against Wolverhampton Wanderers after being sidelined with injuries for two years, and he is also linked with a loan to Portuguese side Benfica this month.
Bailly is currently on international duty for the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations. The Ivory Coast plays Equatorial Guinea in its first match of the tournament’s group stage at 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday. His contract at United expires in 2024.