Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte is reportedly interested in signing Manchester United defender Chris Smalling this summer. The 30-year-old has been on loan with AS Roma this season, rediscovering his form which has seemingly seen Inter being linked to the player. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is expected to allow the player to leave the club this summer despite the fact that Roma were not willing to sign the player for the fee they were quoted at the time the player secure his loan spell.
This resulted in the player returning to Manchester, although it would seem the player has gone on his holidays, rather than return to England. He will be expected back at the Aon Training Complex in Carrington at some stage this summer though, if a move has not materialised, seemingly with the player training with his teammates ahead of the 2020/21 season commencing. United are still playing in the UEFA Europa League after beating FC Copenhagen 1-0 on Monday evening.
Smalling would still be able to play in the competition had Roma agreed to purchase the player, which would result in him being available for the latter stages of the competition. However, the club chose not to name the player in their final Europa League squad. The reports come from Gazzetta in Italy which state Conte is interested in sanctioning a move for the 30-year-old after he looked good in Italy this season. During the course of the season, Smalling made a total of 37 appearances, scoring three goals and two assists for Roma.
Roma were keen to keep the player this summer but were put off by United’s £21 million asking price, offering £15.5 million which included a loan fee and a compulsory purchase offer to buy the player next summer. United would probably rather sell the player this summer if they can and Inter seem to be able to do that, especially with Financial Fair Play on hold for a year, according to reports. This could be good news for United who will need to offload some more players this summer in order to continue their rebuild under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Juventus have also been linked with Smalling this summer, although there does not seem to be any concrete interest from the club, especially now that they have sacked Maurizio Sarri and hired Andrea Pirlo as the clubs new manager. Inter seem to be infatuated with United players after signing Romelu Lukaku last summer, then signing Alexis Sanchez on loan, which they made permanent last week and in January ended up signing Ashley Young. Smalling could be the fourth former United player t end up at the club in the last year or so.
The Sun has reported that Inter and United boast a good relationship which could see a deal done pretty quickly. Smalling stated that he was keen to stay in Italy, seemingly falling in love with the country. Roma may think that he would be happy to remain at the club but a move to Inter would be seen as a step up this summer with the club finishing as runners-up to champions Juventus this season. Strengthening the squad could be what Conte needs to actually take on Juventus for the title next season.
Written by John Walker