Manchester United are not only verging on the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, if reports are to be believed, but they’ve also got Villarreal stopper Eric Bailly in their sights.
The hulking centre-back is said to be in talks with the Red Devils, though they’ve got competition from Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and neighbours Manchester City.
Bailly isn’t the only La Liga-based backline marshal the Citizens have taken a shine to, with Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte also rumoured to be high on Pep Guardiola’s wishlist.
But based on stats from the previous campaign, which coveted centre-back is superior?
The Villarreal star featured in 25 matches, while his French counterpart took to the field 26 times, though it appears the latter was more vital to his team’s chances of success.
Across all competitions, Bilbao kept clean sheets in 37% of the matches Laporte featured in, inflicting shut outs in 35% in those he missed.
By contrast, Villarreal kept foes quiet in 37% of the games Bailly earned appearance money in, but they were able to stop adversaries bagging in 57% of the games in which he failed to make the XI, suggesting his absence wasn’t much of an issue for the Submarino Amarillo.
In terms of individual stats, it’s the Frenchman who comes out on top more often than not in the metrics that matter.
On the ball, there’s no doubting who is stronger, with Laporte making 421 more successful passes than the Ivorian last term, while he completed 80% of these compared to Bailly’s 77%.
Again, in the air, it’s the Bilbao ace who fared best, winning 51 of his gravity-defying duels to 35, which converts to percentages of 70% and 54%.
He made more interceptions too, with 69 edging out 65. Looking at blocks made, they ended honours even with 16 apiece. The only key field in which Bailly prospered was clearances, with his 120 besting the 95 of Laporte.
Judging by these factors, City would be best served leaving Bailly to United and pooling all their recruiting resources to prise Laporte away from Bilbao if they are to maximise their 2/1-rated chance of winning the Premier League.