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‘They’ve got to come back with a medal’ – Solskjaer supports Diallo & Bailly’s Olympic trip with Ivory Coast

19:21 BST 14/07/2021
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Daniel James Eric Bailly Amad Diallo Manchester United 2020-21
The Red Devils duo have been included in the Elephants’ final 22-man squad for the quadrennial competition later this month

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has thrown his weight behind the selection of Amad Diallo and Eric Bailly for Ivory Coast’s campaign at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Bailly alongside AC Milan's Franck Kessie and Sivasspor's Max Gradel have been picked as over-aged players while Diallo, 19, joins a number of home-based players in coach Haidara Soualiho's team.

The West African country will begin their Olympic campaign against Saudi Arabia on July 22 followed by a date with Brazil three days later, before they conclude their Group D outings against Germany on July 28. 

Solskjaer described their invitation as a good thing and he is backing the two players to return to Manchester with medals from the competition.

“I think everyone, when they grow up, watches the Olympics and can see Usain Bolt or Ryan Giggs. I saw him play in the Olympics [for Great Britain in 2012]!” Solskjaer told the club's website. “When your country calls you up, I think I can’t stand in the way of that boyhood dream being fulfilled.

“Of course, Eric is over-age but I think they can see the value of him and that’s why they brought him in.

“Amad is a young, exciting prospect. It’ll be good to see them. It’ll be their pre-season but they’ve got to come back with a medal. We need a nice feel about the place when they come back!”

Earlier this year, Diallo made his international debut for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations champions against Niger and he opened his goal account for Ivory Coast with the match-winning free-kick against Burkina Faso in a friendly match in June.

He described Bailly as his 'older brother' who has helped him find his feet at Old Trafford following his arrival from Atalanta in January.

“Eric has been like an older brother to me since I arrived in Manchester, but not just Eric, Paul [Pogba] as well,” Diallo said.

“In fact, everyone, but I am closer to Eric and Paul because they speak French and help me with what I need to do both on and off the pitch. 

“And I go with Eric to the national team games, although I did not know him before I came here. But since I have met him, he is a really calm person, he always gives me advice. I think that someone like him is really important for my development as a player.”