What options could Chris Smalling have for next season?
Drew Goodsell | 11 August 2020
England international impressed on loan at Roma last season
After falling out of favour at Manchester United, Chris Smalling rejuvenated his career following a season-long loan at A.S Roma last season.
With his loan spell concluded, Smalling has a huge decision to make over the summer break, with the 30-year-old arguably entering the peak for a central defender.
In his 30 Serie A appearances, Smalling averaged four clearances per game, with 1.2 blocks and 1.9 interceptions per appearance too. On top of that, the loanee managed a staggering pass completion percentage of 90.5% from an average of 48 passes per match.
With the transfer window now open, we look at some of the potential choices Chris Smalling could have.
Return to A.S. Roma
At the conclusion of the Serie A season, both Chris Smalling and Roma boss Paulo Fonseca made it crystal clear that they hoped they could turn a loan deal into a permanent one.
However, nothing has materialised yet, and Smalling has taken to social media to say his goodbyes to the club.
That doesn’t mean a permanent deal in the Italian capital should be ruled out, with previous reports saying the Italians had managed to get Manchester United’s asking price down considerably.
Should the England international move back to Italy, it’s thought he could have a strong number of options, but given his experience at Roma, they’d expect to be in pole position.
It’s thought one of those alternative Italian options could come from Inter Milan, and that shouldn’t really come as too much of a shock.
Since being appointed Inter head coach, Antonio Conte has raided the Premier League, and Manchester United specifically, for several out-of-fashion players.
Smalling could follow in the footsteps of the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Ashley Young in swapping the North West of England for Northern Italy.
Those moves have rejuvenated their careers too, so if Smalling is interested in a move to Internazionale, he may be buoyed by their success.
Manchester United reportedly have an interest in Inter’s Milan Skriniar, so that could stand in the Milan giants favour over Roma should Smalling and the Red Devils decide his future lies in Serie A.
There may be less legs in this move than others, especially after the takeover of Newcastle United fell through, but that doesn’t mean the Magpies aren’t looking for reinforcements.
Steve Bruce and co. had somewhat of a defensive crisis at points during the season, with injuries hitting many of their defensive line at the same time.
That means the Magpies could be looking to bring in a few more options for their back line, and if they are able to get Smalling on a cut-price deal, then it could be a move of interest.
Earlier in the summer, it was reported that Newcastle were looking to bring in more home-grown players to bulk out their squad, with Smalling and Manchester City’s John Stones at the top of the bill in defence.
Could the Magpies make a move to shore up their defence and start creeping their way back up the Premier League table?
This may seem like the most outlandish move, but after the Cottagers promotion back up to the top flight, they’ll hope to give a better account of themselves this time around.
When you look at the strengths and weaknesses of Fulham last season, you’d have to be incredibly harsh to say that they were weak defensively, but as we all know, the Premier League is a totally different animal.
The addition of Smalling could be a shrewd one, and it wouldn’t be the first time he’s represented them in the top flight too. His 13 previous appearances between 2008 and 2010 earned him his move to the Red Devils.
If there’s one thing the Fulham squad are lacking ahead of their return to the Premier League, it’s top flight experience. There are a few players who’ve played in the top tier, but to no real avail. Smalling has experience in abundance, and that could boost the squad too.
Scott Parker is slowly gaining more respect as a first-team manager too, and has Fulham playing an attractive brand of football. Could the draw of Parker attract Smalling to return to West London?
Remain at Manchester United
Having fallen behind Phil Jones in the pecking order last term, could there still be a chance that Smalling fights his way back into the Manchester United squad?
It seems unlikely with the addition of Harry Maguire, who has acquired the captain’s armband too, coupled with head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s preference to pair him with Victor Lindelöf, but there’s always a chance.
Earlier in the season, Smalling’s impressive performances meant the Red Devils had reportedly placed a £25m price tag on the centre back and a fee that high for a 30-year-old could put off potential suitors.
With plenty of summer signings planned at Old Trafford, they could lower their asking price just to raise some extra cash, as well as free up his significant wages from the bill.
If they fail to recruit another centre-back, Smalling could be brought back into the set-up to keep Maguire and Lindelöf on their toes.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.