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Eric Bailly reveals he rejected Manchester City for United after personal phone call from Jose Mourinho

Pep Guardiola got in contact with the defender's agent over a summer move

WHEN the two Manchester clubs lock horns on Thursday night, United’s Eric Bailly could have easily been lining up for Pep Guardiola’s side.

The 23-year-old was being scouted by the Spaniard before the ex-Bayern Munich boss got in touch with his agent over a potential deal.

Eric Bailly was being closely scouted by Manchester City before he joined United

PA:Press Association
Eric Bailly was being closely scouted by Manchester City before he joined United

Bailly eventually joined Old Trafford in a £30million deal from Villarreal and has gone from strength to strength in the Premier League.

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And the Ivory Coast international explains how a conversation with Jose Mourinho convinced him to sign for the red of Manchester.

Speaking to the Mirror, he said: “I was in the Ivory Coast, I got called from a Portuguese number, he introduced himself but I just didn’t believe it at first.

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola come face to face in the Manchester derby on Thursday

AP:Associated Press
A phone call from Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho convinced him to join Old Trafford

“Before I came to Man United, it was City who had been watching me. In my mind, I was going there. But then everything changed.

“It felt like Mourinho was the one who really wanted me. He showed more interest, he rang me and that’s why I’m at Man United.

Eric Bailly has turned out 27 times in all competitions for Man United this season

PA:Press Association
Eric Bailly joined United in a £30million deal from Villarreal

“Man City contacted my agent, Barcelona as well were talking to my agent, but they weren’t as interested in me as Mourinho. He really pushed for the move.

“Of course the club is ­important when you sign, but the manager is so important. If a player feels like the manager wants you, wants to sign you, it gives you extra motivation.”

Bailly has a tough job on his hands to keep out City’s stars with United’s injury crisis in defence.

Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are all sidelined.