Chris Smalling asked to ‘play hardball’ with Manchester United

Italian side AS Roma has reportedly asked Manchester United defender Chris Smalling to play hardball with the Old Trafford club as they look to complete a transfer for the 30-year-old this summer. The central defender has been on loan with the Italian club during the 2019/20 season, which was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic with world football being suspended in mid-March and only starting against in June. It is suggested that Smalling would like to remain in Italy.

The 30-year-old has said this since he signed for the club last summer, which could be good news for United as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks set to put his own mark on his squad, ending the careers of many players during his tenure at the club so far. Smalling has had a good season in Italy, something he will be proud of as he enters the twilight of his career in the game. It has been good seeing him gain some form at the Italian club and seeing United move on.

Both Smalling and Roma are interested in making his mover permanent and United will be seeking a set fee for the player, which is something the Italian club has not yet met and probably will not. The 30-year-old will be set to return to Manchester at the start of August after the club has played their UEFA Europa League round of 16 match with United extending the players loan spell to cover the end of the domestic season in Italy and the delayed match in the European competition.

Italian news source Gazzetta dello Sport has reported that Smalling, who will not be eligible to play in the latter stages of the Europa League this season, to stay close to Rome and tell United that if they made him return to Manchester, he would not move to another club. Whilst the player would like to remain in Italy, the player has remained coy as to whether he would heed Roma’s advice. United are seeking £18 million for the player with Roma wanting to pay £16 million.

Roma would like to keep Smalling until the end of the season, including him being allowed to play in the latter stages of the Europa League but United will not extend the loan spell to cover that period. Therefore, the only option would be for the club to sign the player permanently before a set date so that he would be eligible to play in the remainder of the competition this season, if they get though the round of 16 stage. United have been generous considering the predicament.

Over the years, United have sold players for measly fees with Robin van Persie sold for just £3.84 million in the summer of 2015. It is good to see United demand fees that value toe worth of the player instead of allowing buying clubs to run amuck and decide what they will play with United in a position whereby they need to accept what they can. United will always be held to ransom when buying players, so should bed doing the same thing when teams want to buy their players. United might need to compromise with Smalling’s fee though, maybe meeting them in the middle and calling it £17 million to let the player leave permanently.

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.