Roma's Gianluca Petrachi 'Happy' to Make Chris Smalling Loan Stay Permanent

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2020

AS Roma's English defender Chris Smalling (L) and Juventus' Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo eye the ball during the Italian Cup (Coppa Italia) round of 8 football match Juventus vs AS Roma on January 22, 2020 at the Juventus stadium in Turin. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

Roma sporting director Gianluca Petrachi has revealed the club hopes to sign Chris Smalling from Manchester United on a permanent basis.

Smalling joined Roma on a season-long loan last summer, and the Italian side have been impressed.

Per MailOnline's Alvise Cagnazzo, Petrachi said:

"There is a chance. The player will choose what to do. If he really wishes, we will be happy to have him with us permanently. 

"We are very happy with Smalling and he knows it. With Manchester United, the relationship is excellent, we have an excellent feeling with the club."

Smalling has established himself as a regular fixture in the Giallorossi's back line, starting 16 of their past 17 matches in Serie A, only missing December's 3-1 win over SPAL because of a knee issue.

Roma have conceded just 23 goals in 21 Serie A matches. League leaders Juventus have only shipped two fewer. And Smalling has put in some big performances along the way. The centre-back played a key role in Roma becoming the first side to stop Inter Milan scoring in the Italian top flight this season when they met in December.

Meanwhile, football journalist John Solano singled him out as "brilliant" in Roma's 1-1 draw with bitter local rivals Lazio—who were on an 11-game winning runon Sunday.

Earlier in January, Bleacher Report's Gianni Verschueren suggested that if Smalling maintains his form, he would be "a lock for the Serie A team of the season."

United have been a little better at the back this season than they were in the last campaign. In 2018-19 they had shipped 35 goals in 24 games, whereas this season they have conceded six fewer.

However, while Smalling hasn't always convinced during his time at Old Trafford, he would have perhaps been a better partner to Harry Maguire than Phil Jones or Victor Lindelof.

Smalling's game appears to be well-suited to the slower nature of Serie A, so it would be of little surprise if he opted to stay, but his impressive form could yet salvage his United career. At the end of the season, he will still have two years remaining on his Red Devils contract with the option of a third.