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Eric Bailly has admitted he turned down the chance to play for Pep Guardiola in favour of joining Man Utd because of Jose Mourinho.

The former Villarreal defender was being pursued by both clubs in 2016 but opted to snub Man City to complete a £30million move to Old Trafford.

At the time the two sides were fairly evenly matched, although City had pipped United to a Champions League spot on goal difference.

Yet the chance to link-up with Mourinho from the start of his United tenure proved to be too much of a lure for Bailly, who revealed he was sold on the move after a personal phone call from his manager-to-be.

Bailly says he couldn't say no to Mourinho
(Image: Man Utd via Getty Images)

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“In the summer of 2016 there were many rumours," Bailly told Mundo Deportivo .

“I was in Ivory Coast, in the dining room at home with my mother when the phone rang. It was a Portuguese number; Mourinho.

"He told me to come with him, that he liked me since he saw me with Espanyol and Villarreal.

“ Manchester City were also interested, but if Mourinho calls you, you can’t say no."

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have missed out on Jadon Sancho in the summer, but he still made some big moves in the transfer market with Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani all arriving.

But their start to the season has been a mixed bag, with a home defeat to Crystal Palace and a 6-1 thrashing by Spurs at one end of the scale, and a tremendous 2-1 win over PSG in Paris at the other.

The question now is whether they can find the right balance?

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There was plenty of other clubs lining up to acquire Bailly's services, including the top sides in Spain.

“You can’t say no to Barca either," Bailly added. "It just didn’t happen because the interest was not public or so explicit."

Bailly's choice has not necessarily been vindicated, given City have enjoyed a more successful period since his transfer than their rival neighbours.

He has won two honours at United – the League Cup and Europa League – but silverware has dried up following Mourinho's sacking in December 2018.

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The 26-year-old faces an uncertain future under current boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has struggled to solve United's defensive woes.

Bailly has made just four appearances for his club this season, the last of which was in the 6-1 horror show against Tottenham where he was given a torrid afternoon by Harry Kane and co.

But he still feels Solskjaer has helped improve United's defence and will eventually find the right answer.

Should Bailly be given a greater role in the United side? Have your say below.

The defender has not featured for United since the dire display vs Tottenham
(Image: Getty Images)

“We have known how to overcome adversity because the dressing room is with Solskjaer," he added.

“He is a close guy who has a good relationship with everyone and understands the codes of the football player.

“At the back, he [Solskjaer] asks for concentration and more character. There are small mistakes that have been avoided.

“We need to pay more attention to plays that seem of little danger and that end up costing us too much.”