Chris Smalling could ‘extend stay’ at Roma, seemingly content that Manchester United career could be over

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has suggested that he would like to prolong his stay in Italy for longer after being dropped by the Old Trafford club and England. The 29-year-old made a last-ditch move to AS Roma ahead of the transfer window closing in a bid to play more football. Despite signing a new contract at United, it seems his time might be up.

Following the arrival of Harry Maguire, that was unlike for Smalling at United, so instead of spending time on the sidelines, maybe not even being considered in the Carabao Cup and the UEFA Europa League this year, it was clear that the player needed to seek new horizons. He seems to have found that at the Italian club, not yet featuring for the club.

Smalling will spend the season on loan at the club, aiming to find his way into the first team and get some minutes under his belt in Serie A, with the club seeking to finish in the UEFA Champions League places this season. Despite not playing a minute of football yet, Smalling said he could see himself staying at the club longer, saying:

“To be able to have the chance at a big club, and then if it prolongs and the club is happy, then I can definitely see a longer term future in Italy.

“I think this is an opportunity that came to me that I was very interested in and I’m very eager to come.

“It happened very quickly and I think if I focus on the next game, getting up to speed with training, in terms of the manager’s methods and then hopefully have a very good season, then see what happens.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has stuck with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire as the central defensive partnership at the club this season with Axel Tuanzebe on the bench. It would seem that Eric Bailly, when fit, would be the third or fourth choice central defender, leaving Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo playing few minutes this season.

Smalling will see some former and current teammates in the league this season with Romelu Lukaku being sold to Inter Milan and Alexis Sanchez on loan there, also with Matteo Darmian being sold to Parma before the closure of the summer transfer window. It might be tough for him in a new league and a new country and could leave him in a worse position.

It is clear that his future at United is far from certain. Solskjaer has started his rebuild of the club, signing Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Daniel James this summer, still needing more quality in the team. It is likely that youth will make it into the squad this season with Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, James Garner and Tahith Chong likely.

Smalling was one of the better defenders at the club in the last few years but with him pushing 30 and with Solskjaer looking to find a better squad which can be blooded in for the future, it was clear, just as it was under Sir Alex Ferguson, that the manager needed to upset some players in order to ensure that the club is put first, which has not been the case of late.

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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.