Manchester United defender Eric Bailly says he chose the Red Devils over Manchester City and Barcelona because of Jose Mourinho. The Ivory Coast international joined United for £30m (€35.4m) last summer and has impressed under the Portuguese manager, who pushed for his signature.

The former Villarreal star initially thought he was going to sign for Manchester City, who are still in dire need of central defensive reinforcement. However, "everything changed" when Mourinho got in touch.

Bailly also could have also stayed in Spain with Barcelona but stressed the importance of the former Real Madrid manager's role in his move. He will hope he can continue to repay the faith shown in him by delivering a colossal defensive performance when Manchester United face Manchester City on Thursday evening (27 April).

"I was in the Ivory Coast, I got called from a ­Portuguese number, [Mourinho] ­introduced himself but I just didn't ­believe it at first," Bailly told The Mirror. "Before I came to Manchester United, it was Manchester 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 Manchester United. Manchester 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.

Eric Bailly
Bailly has provided a commanding presence for Manchester United. Reuters

"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."

Mourinho will have to heavily rely on the one-time Barcelona target at the Etihad Stadium; the 23-year-old is the only specialist centre-back available to him for the clash against Pep Guardiola's men, with Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all injured. Daley Blind will deputise alongside Bailly in the heart of defence for United, who could take their neighbours' place in the top four with a win at the Etihad.