Manchester United defender Eric Bailly will face some time on the sidelines, José Mourinho has confirmed, with the central defender out for two-to-three months.
The 23-year old centre half has not played since starting against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in early November, and any hopes of a swift return have now been dashed, with the Ivorian needing ankle surgery.
Speaking to MUTV ahead of Sunday’s trip to the Hawthorns, Mourinho offered an update on Bailly’s injury, which had previously been described as “serious”. He said;
He goes to surgery, the decision is made. I don’t say (he’s out) for the rest of the season but it’s for the next two or three months.
Bailly’s lay-off will mean he will most likely miss United’s Champions League tie against Sevilla in February, which could force Mourinho into making enquiries in the January window.
United have plenty of numbers at the back in Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Victor Lindelöf, however none of them have been pulling up trees so far this season.
While recruiting in January is possible, Mourinho admitted he isn’t a fan of the window, where price tags are often at a premium and top talent is hard to acquire. He said;
I’m not a big defender of the January market but there are players and situations that sometimes you have the chance to do and you shouldn’t lose that chance.
I don’t like the January market just to buy, but if you can buy in January a player that you would buy in June or July and you have the chance to get him a few months before, then great.
One such player who may find himself in Mourinho’s crosshair is Atlético Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.
The France international has long been linked with a move to Manchester, and his departure appeared to become slightly more in focus on Friday, with manager Diego Simeone telling L’Equipe that the player can indeed leave at some point, while he also recognised that the player needs to grow.
However, if Mourinho is looking to pull out the stops to sign the Frenchman, he is keeping his cards close to his chest. He said;
I don’t speak about players, especially players that belong to other clubs – there is no sense.