Eric Bailly has revealed that he is currently taking English classes, as he continues with his integration process after his summer move from Spanish side Villarreal. He deems it important that his teammates have confidence, and being able to speak English could help with that.
Bailly has had a storming start to his Manchester United career, winning the club’s Player of the Month award for August. He has generally been the best performing summer signing so far this season, which is even more impressive when you remember the calibre of United’s other signings. And while he has had help integrating from teammates who speak the same languages he does, he is taking the next step with the English lessons, as quoted by The Mirror:
“There are players who speak Spanish and French and they help me integrate. I’ve just started having English classes, too. Little by little.
“It’s important for the other players to have confidence in you. It was my dream since being a child to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world and now I’m here, I’m going to take that chance.”
Bailly’s inability to speak English has been a cause for the inconvenience, too. Daley Blind, whom Bailly has partnered with in defence most, has admitted that the language barrier has caused difficulty, but not one they haven’t been able to deal with.
“I think the key is to talk a lot. It’s a bit more difficult with Eric because of the language barrier but we both understand football and you can also do a lot with your hands.
“We’ve had a good understanding already It’s important to be able to rely on each other and help each other, that helps build a team together.”
Despite the language barrier, Blind and Bailly has been a very solid partnership in defence. United have lost the only league game Blind didn’t play in, and have won all but one game where Blind and Bailly were played next to each other in the heart of the defence. It is clear that they already have a fine on pitch understanding, even without actually speaking with one another.
But there is always the possibility of the issue creating problems on the pitch. Bailly plays in a very particular way, aggressively chasing down opposition forwards and tackling hard to win the ball. Now, this sounds great, but a misstep on his part could lead to a wide open defence. Blind knows how to cover this opening, which is why the two compliment each other so well, but that is no guarantee for his other teammates.
And without speaking English, it would be very difficult for him to build a relationship with much of the squad. As Bailly mentioned, his French and Spanish-speaking teammates have helped his integration, but he won’t be able to fully integrate into the squad and build rapport with his teammates if he doesn’t speak the languages that the most squad members speak.
With Bailly playing the way he’s been so far, this might not be United’s most pressing issue at the moment, but communication is key in football, and speaking the same language goes a long way. As Bailly said himself, it’s important for the other players to have confidence in him. His performances so far for the club would help with that, but how great would it be if those players could come up to him tell him that?