Roma are expected to complete the shock signing of Chris Smalling from Manchester United within the coming hours.
Gianluca Petrachi has been searching for a new centre-back all summer, even after the arrival of Gianluca Mancini from Atalanta, with the season opener against Genoa proving that reinforcements are still needed at the back.
Earlier in the summer, Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld had been the top target, but Roma were reluctant to pay his £25m release clause, which has since expired, meaning the focus shifted to Daniele Rugani from Juventus or Dejan Lovren from Liverpool.
However, on Wednesday evening, Il Tempo journalist Alessandro Austini hinted that Roma were considering a third name, a ‘Mister X’ profile, which he has since revealed as Man Utd man Smalling.
Difensore Roma in arrivo. Il mister X che supera Rugani e Lovren potrebbe essere #Smalling del Manchester United— Alessandro Austini (@aleaus81) August 29, 2019
The English centre-back, 29, has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now has five other defenders to choose from – Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo. Therefore, it is suggested that Smalling can leave on loan – with Corriere Dello Sport‘s Jacopo Aliprandi furthering the story by claiming that the 29-year-old can arrive in Rome today.
Sky Sport Italia‘s Gianluca Di Marzio reveals that Roma will pay €3m for the loan, but there is no option to buy.
Smalling would become the first English player to represent Roma since Ashley Cole’s ill-fated spell from 2014 until January 2016, and just the third Brit in history – with John Charles spending a season in Rome in the 1960s.
In addition, last season, Emma Lipman became the first English player to represent Roma’s women’s team.
Smalling has made more than 300 appearances for United since joining from Fulham in 2010, but has not featured for England since 2017, because Gareth Southgate does not deem him suitable for his style of play. However, it appears that Roma do consider him suitable for them, with Paulo Fonseca having targeted a fast, experienced defender capable of playing in a high line all summer.