Former Arsenal defender claims new signing can become Man United great

Alan Smith is a big fan of Manchester United's new signing Eric Bailly

Eric Bailly can become one of Manchester United’s greatest defenders, according to Alan Smith.

The Ivory Coast international has already proven to be a big hit with the Red Devils after the centre-half’s impressive Premier League debut at Vitality Stadium.

Bailly received the man of the match award after he helped the 20-time English champions ease to a 3-1 victory over Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon.

The African defender completed a £30m move to United from La Liga side Villarreal in June as he became the first signing of the Jose Mourinho era at Old Trafford.

Former Arsenal striker Smith delivered his glowing verdict on the United defender ahead of their next Premier League fixture against Southampton.

“He is the kind of centre-half Manchester United have needed for quite a while, the aggressive, no-nonsense sort reluctant to take prisoners when the ball is there to be won,” Smith wrote in his Telegraph column.

“Not since Nemanja Vidic, in fact, have United fielded a central defender quite like Eric Bailly.

“In the coming months, Jose Mourinho will doubtless get to work on his new signing to properly instil the right habits and discipline.

“As it is, the raw materials are in place. But Bailly now has an opportunity under his master’s guidance to become a defender of real substance, revered at Old Trafford like some greats of the past.”

Mourinho’s side will host Southampton at Old Trafford on Friday night as the Red Devils look to secure back-to-back Premier League wins.

United are at the top of the Premier League table thanks to their 3-1 victory over the Cherries after goals from Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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Mourinho was appointed as Louis van Gaal’s successor at Old Trafford in May.

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