Eric Bailly to consider Manchester United future if situation doesn't improve - sources

Eric Bailly is ready to consider his future next summer if his prospects at Manchester United do not improve, sources have told ESPN FC.

The defender started 15 games in all competitions last season -- one fewer than Henrikh Mkhitaryan who left in January -- and has been restricted to three Premier League starts so far this term.

He has been linked with moves to Arsenal and Tottenham but sources have told ESPN FC the 24-year-old is determined to give himself at least until the end of the season to win a regular place in Jose Mourinho's team.

United, according to sources, would be unwilling to sell unless Bailly -- who cost them £30 million in 2016 -- made it clear he wants to leave. They would also be reluctant to sell to a Premier League rival.

Mourinho made it clear in the summer he wanted to sign a new centre-back but missed out on Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld and Jerome Boateng. He has turned his attention to Inter Milan's Milan Skriniar and Alessio Romagnoli at AC Milan ahead of the January transfer window.

Any defensive addition would push Bailly further down the pecking order at Old Trafford. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof have been Mourinho's preferred pairing this season and there is further competition from Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo. Midfielders Ander Herrera and Scott McTominay have also played at centre-half this season.

Mourinho is a keen admirer of Bailly but has reservations about his injury record. Bailly started the 3-2 win over Newcastle before the international break but was substituted after 18 minutes with United 2-0 down.

However, sources have told ESPN FC that Mourinho sought out Bailly after the game to assure the Ivorian he had not been held responsible for the poor start and the decision was purely tactical.

Mourinho's team are back in action against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Oct. 20. The Portuguese coach is hopeful of having Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard available after injury but Nemanja Matic is a doubt after missing international duty with Serbia because of a back injury.

Lingard is struggling with a groin problem that has plagued him since the World Cup while Herrera has an ankle injury that he has struggled to shake off since the preseason friendly with Bayern Munich in August.

United's medical staff are hopeful both Lingard and Herrera will be in contention for Chelsea after resting during the break in the domestic calendar.