Manchester United veteran defender Chris Smalling has joined AS Roma on loan for the 2019/20 season. In something of a surprise move that only emerged in recent days, Smalling leaves United in search of regular football after finding himself way down the pecking order at center back. Smalling has frequently been a first-choice defender in recent years, despite his shortcoming, and even ended last season as the preferred partner for Victor Lindelöf at the heart of United’s back line.
Confirmation of @ChrisSmalling's loan move to AS Roma until June 2020. Good luck, Chris!— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 30, 2019
Things have changed this season, however. Following the signing of Harry Maguire, and the promotion of Axel Tuanzebe, Smalling has failed to even make the matchday squad in any of the three games so far this season. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed that he sat down with Smalling recently:
“It’s just come up the last couple of days, this opportunity for Chris. We’ve sat down and discussed it – at the moment we’ve got six fit centre-backs.
“I couldn’t promise Chris regular football, so he’s on the plane over now. I think he’ll enjoy the experience. It’s a big club, a big league, not many English players have had the chance to play in Italy. He’ll come back stronger and fitter for it.”
Smalling is joining a big club in a major league, and good on him for betting on himself. For all the stick he gets, he is a multiple league winner and full international, and is too good to be sitting in the stands. Best of luck to him this season. Please don’t come back.