Last week, Manchester United confirmed the signing of Victor Lindelof from Benfica on a four-year contract in deal worth £30.7 million.
The likes of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind should all feel very threatened, but one man who shouldn’t be too worried is Eric Bailly.
The Ivorian powerhouse adapted to English football incredibly well following his move from Villarreal last summer, firmly establishing himself as United’s best defender.
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Bailly ended up being one of the Premier League’s most dominant centre-backs, meanwhile, Lindelof made 47 appearances in all competitions as Benfica won the domestic double.
Lindelof vs. Bailly
So, how does the Swede’s 2016-17 compare in some key areas to Jose Mourinho’s first-ever acquisition as Man Utd boss? Let’s take a look at the statistics, courtesy of Squawka’s comparison matrix.
Lindelof played 32 of Benfica’s 38 league matches, racking up 2880 minutes of football as the Portuguese giants won the Primera Liga.
Bailly suffered an injury midway through the season but still made 25 league appearances for the Europa League and EFL Cup winners, playing 2065 minutes.
The Ivory Coast international made 2.52 interceptions per game on average, compared to 1.62 for Lindelof, and he was dominant in other stats too.
Bailly averaged more blocks (0.64) and clearances (5.44) per match than Man United’s newest signing (0.22 and 3.72 respectively).
United’s number three won 1.72 tackles per game (0.53 for Lindelof), however the 22-year-old Swede was better in the air, winning 2.16 aerial duels on average, compared to Bailly’s 1.52.
In his very first interview as a Man Utd player, the classy Lindelof said that he likes to have the ball at his feet, and the stats certainly back him up.
On the ball, “The Iceman” registered a 90% pass completion record (4% higher than Bailly) and averaged an impressive 54.56 passes per game (29.32 for Bailly).
Lindelof committed one foul per game on average, marginally better than Bailly’s 1.12, and he picked up just one yellow card compared to the Ivorian’s four.
None of them were sent off in league action, and incredibly, neither Bailly nor Lindelof produced a single defensive mistake, or errors which led to a goal.
Of the comparative stats we looked at, Lindelof came out on top in five categories, while Bailly was statistically better in four - they're very evenly matched.
If Lindelof and Bailly are as good together as they were individually last season, they could quickly develop into the Premier League’s best central defensive partnership.
Do YOU think Lindelof and Bailly will form a good partnership for Man Utd next season? How good can they become? Leave YOUR opinion in the comments box below!
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