Bengaluru, April 5: Spanish giants Real Madrid have emerged as shock contenders to sign Manchester United central defender Eric Bailly this summer.
The Ivorian central defender is understood to be ready to move on after being plagued by injuries and falling down the pecking order at United this season.
The 24-year-old's camp are also aware of reports that new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ready to reinforce his options at the heart of the Red Devils’ rearguard in the close season.
Sources close to Bailly have heard bosses at the Bernabeu have him on a list of first-tier options, having been beaten to the punch by United when he left Spanish side Villarreal back in 2016 for £30m.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is understood to remain a fan of the player from his previous time in La Liga at Villareal and Bailly’s name has been put forward to the legendary Frenchman.
Bailly still has 15 months left on his current contract at United but talks over an extension have been left on the back burner, which has only added to the Ivory Coast international’s frustration.
The powerful 24-year-old defender was Jose Mourinho’s first signing when he was appointed but even the Portuguese tactician was out of patience with him towards the end of his tenure.
He has made started just 13 games in all competitions this season and remains a huge doubt for the Champions League quarter-final clash against Barcelona.
Solskjaer's side could propose a player-plus-cash deal including Bailly to increase their chances of luring Raphael Varane away from the Bernabeu.
The Red Devils have been linked with a £70m move for the Madrid defender, but Italian giants Juventus have also indicated their interest.
Varane is under contract with Zidane's side until 2022, but he has told his team-mates that he wants to make the move to the Premier League.
Bailly is just one of the names expected to leave this summer as Solskjaer plans to completely overhaul his squad by letting as many as six players leave.