Eric Bailly injury: Five defender transfers Manchester United should look at as cover for injured star, including Chelsea star & Liverpool target

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Manchester United have been dealt a major blow by today’s Eric Bailly injury news, and will surely need to look to the transfer market for cover for the Ivory Coast international.

Bailly has been a solid performer for United since he joined the Red Devils from Villarreal last summer, but now has to undergo surgery and could miss as much as three months, according to Jose Mourinho.

‘He goes to surgery, the decision is made,’ Mourinho told MUTV.

‘I don’t say (he’s out) for the rest of the season but it’s for the next two or three months.’

Can United realistically cope with the Bailly injury if they don’t invest? Mourinho may feel content with Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones as his options, though the latter has also had his fitness problems recently.

In case the Portuguese does decide to get his chequebook out, we’ve picked five centre-backs we think could be ideal and realistic targets for the club this January…

Virgil van Dijk (Southampton)

van dijk southampton
Could Manchester United swoop for Virgil van Dijk?

According to the Times, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City could all be in for the immense Virgil van Dijk this January, so could United also join the running?

There’s no reason to think the Dutchman couldn’t be a great fit at Old Trafford as so many other top clubs chase him, so perhaps the Bailly injury could prove decisive in Mourinho’s plans.

Still, the Times claim Van Dijk would likely be very expensive, with £70million perhaps too much to fork out for a player who might not be viewed as the guaranteed first-choice in that role for the long term.

David Luiz (Chelsea)

david luiz
David Luiz faces an uncertain future at Chelsea

The Daily Express have linked Manchester United with out-of-favour Chelsea centre-back David Luiz, so presumably the Bailly injury could see Mourinho step up his efforts.

The Brazil international shone for the Blues last season, even if he seems to have suffered a dip in his performances this term.

Luiz will surely want to be playing regularly in the build-up to next summer’s World Cup, and that may now be more likely at United than with current club Chelsea.

Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

raphael varane
Raphael Varane seems a good option for Manchester United

An old Mourinho favourite, Don Balon have recently linked Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane as a target for his old manager at United.

The France international made his senior breakthrough under Mourinho at Real, and another report from Don Balon suggests his Bernabeu future is in doubt.

Seems a no-brainer for United, and one of many quality options available to them this winter.

Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona)

umtiti barcelona
Manchester United could certainly do worse than sign Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti

The Daily Mirror have recently linked Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti with a move to Old Trafford, and he’d be an ideal player to come in and fill Bailly’s boots.

The 24-year-old has shone for Barca and the only problem is he would perhaps be one of the more ambitious targets on this list.

Still, United have the money and can lure the biggest names from all over Europe when they want to, so Umtiti seems well worth considering.

Stefan de Vrij (Lazio)

Stefan de Vrij
Stefan De Vrij is nearing the end of his contract with Lazio

Heading towards the end of his contract with Lazio, Stefan de Vrij could be another option for United if they fancy saving some money.

The Netherlands international’s situation would surely force his club into accepting whatever offer comes in for him this January, so United should pounce before other clubs do.

Calciomercato have linked Liverpool with De Vrij, so United had better get a move on or he could wind up at one of their Premier League rivals.

More Stories David Luiz Eric Bailly Jose Mourinho Raphael Varane Samuel Umtiti Stefan De Vrij Virgil van Dijk