sport news : What does Eric Bailly's new deal mean for Red Devils' ...

News of Eric Bailly's new deal at raised eyebrows in some quarters as it was only a matter of weeks ago that the suggestion was the unhappy Ivorian was ready to quit. 

There he was on Monday afternoon, pen in hand, signing a new contract to stay at Old Trafford through until 2024.

Bailly, 27, has struggled for game-time behind Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof and with talk of a summer arrival, his opportunities looked set to become even more remote. Even with this new deal, many feel he could still be the fourth option.

Eric Bailly was convinced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to commit his future to Manchester United

Eric Bailly was convinced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to commit his future to

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Solskjaer believes Bailly's speed and aggression will prove important to the United squad

Solskjaer believes Bailly's speed and aggression will prove important to the United squad

Bailly is said to have received sufficient reassurances over his playing time and has agreed a new long-term deal at United, with the option of a further year. 

He arrived under Jose Mourinho from Villarreal but has seen himself fall down the pecking order under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with form and fitness both contributing factors.

Nonetheless, he insists he had no hesitations over a new contract.

'This decision is something I didn't have to think about, I love this club and I love playing for ,' he told the club's official website following Monday's announcement.

Bailly is believed to have been given assurances by the boss that he will get more game-time

Bailly is believed to have been given assurances by the boss that he will get more game-time 

'I'm happy and so are my family, everything is good. Now the moment with my injury has passed and I'm fit and feel good, and that's it. A new contract is like a new challenge and I'm ready for this.

'That's why I say the new contract shows the group has confidence in me - the coach, the staff and the players and, for me, that is very important. And that's why I made this decision to stay at the club.

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'For me, it's the dream to be here. Now it's my fifth season and I hope to be here a long time.'

The question now is, what does it all mean for the future of United's defence? Maguire wears the captain's armband, Lindelof has the trust to partner the England international, Axel Tuanzebe is a highly-rated academy star and is there any life left in forgotten man Phil Jones? Sportsmail breaks down United's options... 

HARRY MAGUIRE

Age: 28

Contract: Until 2025

In short: he's going nowhere. 

Bailly's new deal is no threat to Maguire and the future of United's defence will be built around him, rather than leave him watching the construction with a hard hat from afar. 

Harry Maguire (centre) is United captain and he will be at the heart of the defence for years

 Harry Maguire (centre) is United captain and he will be at the heart of the defence for years

He's in his prime for club and country at the age of 28 and it spoke volumes when Solskjaer was keen to give him the armband. On and off the pitch he has become a role model for a dressing room crying out for leadership.

The focus now seems to be to find a long-term partner for Maguire, hence talk of a summer move for one of Europe's finest defenders.

Lindelof and Bailly will likely be able to audition for the full-time role but doubts remain over both.

RB Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano was a target but he has since committed to joining Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

Raphael Varane, Pau Torres, Jules Kounde and Dan-Axel Zagadou have all been mooted as potential options with all four able to provide pace alongside Maguire, an area which is key to partner the ex-Hull City and Leicester defender.

Villarreal's Pau Torres (right) as mooted as a potential long-term partner for Maguire at United

Villarreal's Pau Torres (right) as mooted as a potential long-term partner for Maguire at United

Losing Marcos Rojo in February in a permanent deal to Boca Juniors opened a spot in defensive options while Tuanzebe is out of contract next summer and nobody quite knows at Carrington what is left of Jones.

United cannot be left in a situation where one injury to Maguire could go on and derail their season. 

United have shipped 11 goals more in the league so far this season than champions-elect Manchester City and United have seen the impact a signing like Ruben Dias has had in fixing City's issues defensively.

Maguire has provided a major presence but needs a long-term partner and so far it appears unclear if that man is - or isn't - Lindelof. 

VICTOR LINDELOF

Age: 26

Contract: Until 2024

Unlike Maguire, Lindelof may have shuffled uneasily at news of Bailly's long-term contract extension.

The Sweden international has successfully managed to establish himself as Maguire's regular partner in central defence under Solskjaer but if Bailly has assurances over playing time, it would suggest he is far from established moving forward.

Lindelof made a slow start to life at United when he arrived in 2017 but has gone on to look much more comfortable in English football.

Victor Lindelof (right) has largely had trust of Solskjaer (left) to be Maguire's regular partner

Victor Lindelof (right) has largely had trust of

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