AS Roma have made their intentions clear on keeping defender Chris Smalling come January and are prepared to pay a fee of €15 million to secure him permanently.
Smalling is currently on loan to the Giallorossi from Manchester United until June 2020. He has made 323 appearances for United during his nine-year spell. However, the 30-year-old defender has quickly established himself in Italy and has become a key part of Roma’s defence this season, and a leader that Paulo Fonseca has come to rely on.
But the United hierarchy have also been watching his progress closely and a resurgent Smalling means that the top brass want a higher fee. While Roma want to keep Smalling, Manchester United aren’t willing to let him go for less than €18 million. His move to the Italian club followed the arrival of the £80 million (€94 million) signing Harry Maguire, which left Smalling the odd man out at Old Trafford. Nonetheless, while the English defender has settled comfortably at the Stadio Olimpico, he has hinted that he may want to re-join Solksjaer’s squad.
The Metro reported how Smalling thinks he’ll be a better player when he returns to Manchester next year in May. In better form than when he left this summer, Smalling is suddenly a more attractive prospect for Solskjaer who hasn’t had a very good start to the season. An in-depth look at all the current Premier League teams by Coral details how Solskjaer is under pressure to guide United to a top four finish this season. This might be easier said than done for a club that finished 6th last season and is currently sitting in 9th place. But while Smalling’s success has attracted United’s attention once again, it’s not all due to his capabilities.
His decision to leave United in the summer was due to a lack of playing time and whereas Solkjaer’s would have probably used him in 20-25 games throughout the season, he has been part of Roma’s starting XI for every single game he has been available for this campaign. Apart from more playing time, what’s changed is the way Smalling is being used by Fonseca. Smalling is thriving in a system that makes use of his best attributes and allows him to play on the front foot. A far cry away from Mourinho’s time with the Red Devils where he forced him to stay back and react to pressure, Smalling is a better player when he’s allowed to take the initiative and play a higher line.
Judging from his performance in the first half of the season it’s no wonder that Roma are working overtime to sign him permanently. The Giallorossi have kept clean sheets in more than half of the matches he’s started and was instrumental in the 3-0 win against Brescia this past weekend, scoring one and assisting two goals. His methodical, no-nonsense defending has been admirable and he has won foot races against some of the most capable strikers in Serie A, including Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata. Should United agree to a €15 million deal, Roma would be looking at a bargain that might just help them to a top three finish again this season.