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Transfer Rater: Mertens to Man United

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 By PA Sport

Jose Mourinho frustrated as Eric Bailly leaves Man United for Ivory Coast

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is frustrated with Ivory Coast after they refused to delay Eric Bailly's African Nations Cup departure by 24 hours.

Bailly returned to United's starting XI in Saturday's 2-1 win over Middlesbrough, and Mourinho was hoping he would be available to take on West Ham on Monday as well.

That could not happen without the consent of his national side, who are preparing for the tournament in Gabon, and coach Michel Dussuyer was not willing to take the risk.

United should not be harmed in the short term, with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo ready to restore their successful partnership after being rested for the New Year's Eve victory. Chris Smalling is also fit, but Mourinho is concerned about a lack of numbers at the back.

Eric Bailly of Manchester United
Eric Bailly joined Manchester United from Villarreal in the summer.

"Bailly is leaving -- he goes to the national team," Mourinho said. "He has to be with them on Jan. 2. We asked them for him to be on Jan. 3 but they refused, so he cannot play against West Ham.

"With these kind of decisions they are controlling every second, so for sure they are going to win the African Cup. I know I lose Bailly for a month so I'm going to have Smalling, Rojo, Jones ... three players for eight matches."

Bailly, 22, has had a hit and miss start to his United career, starting the season strongly before a dip in form and fitness. He is still delighted to be part of the Red Devils set-up and last week lavished praise on Mourinho, who enters 2017 on the back of six successive wins.

"He is a great manager, the best in the world," Bailly said.

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