Roma have confirmed the signing of Chris Smalling on loan from Manchester United, making him the second English player in the club’s history.
Smalling joins on a season-long loan with no written option to buy, although like with Davide Zappacosta, who joined on a similar deal from Chelsea, there may be the opportunity to negotiate at the end of the campaign if he has performed well.
The 29-year-old becomes only the second English player to represent Roma in history, following Ashley Cole. Other players with British connections to have featured for the club are John Charles, the Welsh striker who spent a season in Rome in the 1960s, Simone Perrotta, who was born in Greater Manchester but played for Italy, Mark Tullio Strukelj, born in Surrey but an Italian national, and Emma Lipman, who played for the women’s team last year.
The rumours linking Smalling with Roma emerged on Thursday morning, with the deal quickly being accelerated to prevent the club from missing out before Monday’s transfer deadline. Roma have paid €3m for the loan, and should they wish to negotiate for his permanent transfer at the end of the season, it is likely they would have to pay around €17m more.
After completing a medical on Friday, Smalling, who will wear the number 6 shirt last used by Kevin Strootman, told Roma’s official website: “This is the perfect opportunity for me.
“The chance to experience a new league, with a big team that has got big aspirations is exactly what I needed.
“Hopefully I can hit the ground running. I’m looking forward to joining up with my teammates.”