Jose Mourinho has hailed Eric Bailly’s determination and commitment to Manchester United, insisting that teams need players of the defender’s calibre.
United, without a raft of first-choice stars due to a combination of injury and post-World Cup absences, were drubbed 4-1 by Liverpool in their International Champions Cup clash at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.
Bailly, who was the first player signed by Mourinho following his arrival at Old Trafford two years ago, had not even been included in the squad to face Jurgen Klopp’s side following a suspected ankle knock against AC Milan.
But, after Chris Smalling sustained an injury in the warm-up, the Ivory Coast international put his hand up to play and drafted himself into the starting line-up, winning the admiration and respect of his coach.
"When he saw that Smalling in the warm-up was leaving, he decided by himself he did not want another kid on the pitch," Mourinho said.
"That is why we have him, why we still have him and why he is going to stay with us because football teams need people like him; the kind of people where the club is more important than anything else."
Bailly has been linked with a move away from United in this current transfer window, following rumours of discontent between player and manager after being beset by fitness troubles last season.
Yet his coach’s renewed appreciation for the defender following his above-and-beyond showing may indicate that the former Villarreal man will feature in the Portuguese’s plans for the coming season.
"He is a team boy, he is a great boy," Mourinho added. "He is an honest man, always ready to give everything for the team."
United conclude their ICC campaign against Real Madrid at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Tuesday before flying out to Germany for a final pre-season friendly against Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena.
They then kick off their Premier League campaign on August 10, at home to Leicester City.