Manchester United are poised to open negotiations with the central defender Eric Bailly over a new deal, as they don’t want to lose the Ivorian for free when his contract expires next summer.

Following the big-money signing of Harry Maguire from Leicester City, at least one of the Red Devils’ current crop of centre-halfs is expected to depart the club in the near future, and Eric – who is out injured until January – has been claimed as the unlucky casualty.

However, according to The Sun, Manchester ​United remain committed to the Ivory Coast international, in spite of the lengthy injury struggles which have plagued the star’s time at Old Trafford.

As it stands, with 12 months left on his current contract, ​Bailly would be free to negotiate a transfer overseas when Eric returns from his knee injury in the winter, but the management are hoping to avoid that and plan to open talks over a fresh deal.

The Sun claim there’s a clause in Bailly’s £120,000 per week contract which allows manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to automatically extend his current deal, but United would prefer to tie the player down to a fresh one as an indication of their commitment to him.

A Red Devils source is quoted as saying: “The club want Eric to stay and are looking for talks about an extension. We don’t want to lose him on a free transfer next summer. It’s just down to both parties agreeing to everything.

“His injury record isn’t a major concern for us. We just think he has been unlucky with everyone over the last few years. Ole is a fan of the player and we’re going to convince him to stay, at least that is the plan at present.”

Should he remain at Manchester United, Bailly is expected to act as a backup to Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.bs