The Ivorian defender moved to Old Trafford in the summer of 2016, with the opportunity passed up to head to the opposite side of Manchester
Eric Bailly has revealed that he joined Manchester United in 2016 after snubbing interest from City, with a personal phone call from Jose Mourinho convincing him to head for Old Trafford.
Eye-catching performances for Villarreal had brought the Ivorian defender onto the recruitment radar of leading sides in England.
Those at the Etihad Stadium were keen on doing a deal, with Pep Guardiola taking City’s managerial reins that summer.
The Blues’ Catalan coach was, however, beaten to a much sought-after signature by his old adversary Mourinho – who had just taken charge at United.
A £30 million ($40m) transfer was put in place, with Bailly favouring red over blue when it came to a fierce Premier League divide.
Explaining that big career call, amid talk of Barcelona also being keen on acquiring his services, the 26-year-old centre-half told Mundo Deportivo: “In the summer of 2016 there were many rumours.
“I was in Ivory Coast, in the dining room at home with my mother when the phone rang. It was a Portuguese number; Mourinho. He told me to come with him, that he liked me since he saw me with Espanyol and Villarreal.
“Manchester City were also interested, but if Mourinho calls you, you can’t say no.
“You can’t say no to Barca either. It just didn’t happen because the interest was not public or so explicit.”