Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has slammed his parent club and Harry Maguire in an extraordinary interview with English media, accusing the Red Devils of ‘favouring English players’ during his time in Manchester.
The Ivorian centre-back departed on loan this summer, joining Ligue 1 side Marseille alongside other Premier League loanees Nuno Tavares and Issa Kabore. And, looking back at his time at Old Trafford, he claimed that English players (without mentioning names) received preferential treatment from both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
‘The club should avoid favouring English players and give everyone a chance’, he explained.
“[The club should] encourage competition in the dressing room, not just look out for some. I’ve always had the feeling that the national player was prioritised.”
“That doesn’t happen at Chelsea or other big Premier League clubs. Some people take it for granted that they are going to start, and that weakens the team. Luckily [Erik] Ten Hag has a lot of character and I hope he can change that dynamic”, he added.
It is not the first time that Bailly has spoken publicly against his teammates and manager, commenting on an Instagram post in April that was asking for the Ivorian defender to start at the expense of Maguire in the heart of the Red Devils defence.
He didn’t get his wish, with Victor Lindelof partnering Varane as they fell to a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. In fact, Bailly made just four Premier League appearances across the 21/22 campaign.
A way back for Bailly?
That favouritism has ended, as Bailly predicted, with the arrival of Ten Hag. Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw have both been consigned to the bench, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, for each of their four consecutive wins following a dismal start to the season.
And Bailly, while clear on his decision to leave for regular football, did not close the door completely to a return next summer.
‘I met Erik Ten Hag in the dressing room at the end of last season when he went to sign his contract”, he explained.
“I was packing my things because my intention was to leave, but he told me he wanted me to stay because he was going to give minutes to everyone.”
“I agreed to do the summer tour with United, and he kept his word, but I don’t want to play every now and then. I want to do it every week and feel important. I want to get my confidence back.”