Liverpool legend Mark Lawrenson has defended Manchester United for spending a reported £30m ($43.3m) on Eric Bailly. The 22-year-old Ivorian is largely unknown in the UK and while some so-called experts have questioned the fee, Lawrenson thinks it may turn out to be a wise purchase.

Bailly has played just 40 competitive league games as a professional and is still considered to be raw. But Lawrenson feels United have made a sensible decision, based on what he has seen of the player in the Europa League.

"I think he's got a real chance of being a top player eventually," Lawrenson told BBC Radio 5 live of United's first summer recruit. "We saw him that night at Villarreal versus Liverpool. He missed the second-leg with a hamstring injury. You talk about the fee but what's [John] Stones going to go for? And this is a guy who has generally made a mistake every two or three games in the Premier League.

"The fella Bailly – the great thing about him is that he's got a great physique; he is lightning, lightning quick. So, in that position, it allows you to make a mistake but to get that mistake back."

Lawrenson thinks United's new defender is well-suited to the physical nature of the Premier League. "I don't see any problems," he said of Bailly, who has joined United on a four-year deal, with the option for a further year. "He is very physical, and if you sign a centre-back for the Premier League he has to be physical."