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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.

Manchester United looking to snatch Nicolo Zaniolo from Tottenham Hotspur with £25 million bid – reports

Manchester United has entered the race to try and snatch Nicolo Zaniolo from under the clutches of Tottenham Hotspur, according to reports. Calciomercato in Italy, carried by the Sun in England, has claimed that the Old Trafford club is said to be looking to offer Roma £25 million for the 20-year-old midfielder.

The reports state that United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, sees Zaniolo as the missing piece to the puzzle at the club. United has been linked with many young players all around Europe and were hotly linked to Newcastle United midfielder Sean Longstaff, but reports suggest they have been prices out by that ‘wee club in the North East’.

It is stated that United had the race, ahead of Spurs for the player this summer with reports that Zaniolo was ket to Toby Alderweireld leaving the North London club for Rome this summer, bearing in mind he has a £25 million release clause which remains active for the next week. If these reports are true, it would be a steal for United.

Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino, was said to be confident of landing the young Italian earlier this week with the Argentinian looking to revamp his midfield. Zaniolo played 36 times for Roma last season, scoring six times in the Series A. The player also earned his first two caps for Italy after catching the eye of Roberto Mancini.

Many may wonder why Roma would allow such a talented player as Zaniolo leave the club this summer. The thing is, he’s currently in a reported contract row with the club which could result in him being made available, especially if there are more than one team interested in the 20-year-old, which if this report is true, would suggest just that.

The row is said to be based on the fact that Zaniolo feels that his form this season shows that he is worthy of a new contract at the club, however, Roma’s sporting director Gianluca Petrachi feels that the player should prove himself before a new deal is offered. It could be a case of confidence or petulance in this instance, something United should be wary of.

Roma could sell talented midfielder due to FFP regulations

Manchester United could benefit from Financial Fair Play regulations this summer and not in their chase for Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic. AS Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan could be available for just €30 million if reports by calciomercato.com are anything to go by. Nainggolan, an all around midfielder would strengthen United midfield severely, which would see both Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba able to play their favoured roles, assisting the attack going forward, commanding the midfield throughout the match. It is suggested that both Chelsea and Inter Milan are interested in the player but the latter need to sell to meet FFP regulations by the end of the month also.

Normally a player like Nainggolan would command around €50 million, which could still be the case despite the club needing €30 million by the end of the month. The Belgian powerhouse would be a great upgrade for any club but with Jose Mourinho looking for a midfielder with Fabinho and Eric Dier both linked with the former not really being a first=choice target according to reports and Dier’s club, Tottenham Hotspur, commanding a £50 million fee for the player, Nainggolan, despite being a 28-year-old could represent a decent signing for the Old Trafford club. A few years ago, Nainggolan was a player which many United supporters of the club wanted, probably seeing his age as a problem now, despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic proving age is a mere number last season.

Nainggolan signed for Roma from Cagliari, spending the 2013/14 season on loan at the club before making a permanent transfer the following summer with Roma spending €9 million, on top of the €3 million loan fee for the previous season, acquiring 50% of the player’s rights, which may become a problem if United are interested in signing the midfielder. The Belgian has made 160 appearances for Roma, including his loan spell, scoring 28 goals in total. Goals are the only thing Nainggolan can produce being described as one of the most complete midfielders in Europe which is based on the player’s ability to attack and defend. Nainggolan is quick, dynamic and hard-working, physically strong and versatile.

Nainggolan can play in many positions, has good vision, passing range, and technique. The Belgian can often be found playing in the playmaker role just in front of the defensive line. Nainggolan has the attacking drive needed to play in that position, which is something United could benefit from, also having the ability to get forward on the attack and an important eye for a goal from midfield, which again would be something United would be interested in with more goal needed next season, especially in the Premier League. Nainggolan’s wide range of attributes, including his movement, his ability to make last-ditch tackles, his overall talent and most importantly, his energy tend to see him playing a more attacking role, which many would not grumble about, even if Herrera is utilised in a more defensive way throughout the season.

The Belgian’s tenacity, pace, stamina and aggressive tackling, added to his willingness and ability to chase down his opposition, Nainggolan could represent that tough player Mourinho would like to have in his team. Nainggolan is a ball winner, able to chase down his target, which has seen him also play a box-to-box role, but he is also capable of playing as a winger, which may not be the best role for him, but it would be another option for Mourinho, should he not end up signing Perisic this summer. With former Roma manager Luciano Spalletti not at Inter, I am sure the player will be hotly linked to the San Siro club, seemingly looking to follow his manager, but with the need for Inter to match FFA regulations also, they ay not be in the market until a player has been sold, which could be Perisic or even Mauro Icardi, who has been linked to Chelsea, but only for a massive transfer fee.

copyright: JW