Manchester United signed Eric Bailly for around £30m in June 2016 from Villarreal, but he’d only been at the Spanish club for 18 months.

Prior to that, the defender was with Espanyol, where he came through the youth system. Joining Barcelona’s other club in 2011 as a 17 year old, Bailly worked his way through the youth and B ranks to the first team, before eventually moving to Villarreal for around £5m.

Tuesday’s edition of Catalan newspaper Sport reports Espanyol are planning to swoop for their former player should they lose Mario Hermoso to Real Madrid, presumably during the January transfer window.

The defender has a €40m buyout clause, but when Real Madrid sold him to Espanyol they included their own clause, a buyback amount of €15m. With claims in Spain that Madrid own 50% of his future rights anyway, that would make him cost €7.5m.

Such an amount isn’t going to cover what Bailly would cost, and it’s almost unthinkable that Espanyol could afford the appropriate transfer fee and wages. Even salary alone on a loan deal would be a problem.

Nevertheless, Sport are still making the claim of a potential shock move.