Chris Smalling has arrived in Rome ahead of his medical for the year long loan deal with Serie A side Roma. There is no option to buy him at the end of the season though, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer talking to the media at his press conference today about his hope’s for the centre-back’s future.
Chris is on his way over. He’s flying over to Rome this morning to do a medical and all the final details. At the moment we’ve got six centre-backs and it’s just something that popped up towards the end [of the European transfer window] in the last couple of days. Chris fancied the chance to go over there; it’s a new experience, new adventure.
He’ll come back better for it because it’s a big club, it’s a good league. There aren’t too many English players who have been playing in Italy so I think he’ll enjoy it.
Smalling has averaged over 40 games a season over the past four years but in United’s games so far this campaign has yet to even make the bench. Youngster Axel Tuanzebe has been preferred to him, with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof proving to be Solskjaer’s first choice central pairing.
It’s quite a remarkable turnaround when you consider that Jose Mourinho had Smalling as his captain when Antonio Valencia wasn’t playing.
While Smalling has his critics, he is clearly a better and (slightly) less injury prone player than the likes of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo who will be staying at the club for the season ahead.
Is this the last we’ve seen of him? Or will he return to Old Trafford next season a better player? His current contract with United doesn’t expire until 2022 and turns 30 in a few months. Time will tell.