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Report: Chris Smalling to Join Roma on 1-Year Loan from Manchester United

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2019

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 05:  Chris Smalling of Manchester United arrives  prior to the Premier League match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester United at John Smith's Stadium on May 05, 2019 in Huddersfield, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Roma have reportedly agreed to sign Chris Smalling on loan from Manchester United for the rest of the season.

Italian football journalist Fabrizio Romano said the transfer was set to go ahead, with the Serie A outfit paying €3 million (£2.7 million) to borrow the defender:

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Chris Smalling to AS Roma from Man United, here we go! Total agreement for a simple loan (€3M to Man Utd) without buy option. The player has accepted. 🔴 #MUFC #Roma #transfers

Gianluca Di Marzio of Sky Sport Italia also reported that Smalling was on his way to Rome:

Gianluca Di Marzio @DiMarzio

#Smalling on loan from @ManUtd to @OfficialASRoma @SkySport @SkySportsNews @SkySportsPL @ChrisSmalling

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News provided further details and said Smalling has received interest from a number of clubs in Italy's top flight:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Chris Smalling attracting interest from Italy before the European deadline. AC Milan, Fiorentina and Roma all believed to be interested. Remains to be seen whether Smalling would uproot his Young family when he’s so settled. Story up soon @ManUtdMEN. #mufc

Roma have been on the lookout for a new defender. According to Paul Joyce of the Times, they initially moved for Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren, although it appears they've turned their attentions to the United man.

Smalling has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge in December. Harry Maguire's arrival from Leicester City for a world-record fee for a defender earlier in August was always set to further limit his opportunities.

With that in mind, it's not a massive surprise to see Smalling on the move. Everton had a loan offer rejected for the player earlier in the summer, and it appears the England international is off to the Eternal City.

Alex Shaw of ESPN said Solskjaer deserves credit for the manner in which he has ruthlessly assessed his squad:

Alex Shaw @AlexShawESPN

Those are big names and personalities he has ditched. Sure, the United squad is paper thin but I'd wager the majority would prefer seeing Tuanzebe get a chance than Smalling (a decent, albeit limited servant) or wasters like Rojo.

Smalling arrived at United in 2010 from Fulham with a reputation as one of the most exciting defensive prospects in English football.

During his time at Old Trafford, he has won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League, although many believe he hasn't lived up to his early potential. Smalling can be erratic, while his distribution is subpar when compared to other centre-backs who play for elite sides.

With Maguire and Victor Lindelof the starting duo at United, it makes sense for the 29-year-old to explore a new challenge, and should the move be completed it will be fascinating to see how he fares in Italian football.

At Roma, he would face the unenviable job of helping to fill the void left by the sale of Kostas Manolas. The dynamic Greek defender joined Napoli earlier this summer and is rated by many as one of the top centre-backs in Italian football.