Manchester United have reportedly rejected an offer from Everton to take Chris Smalling on loan. That is fair enough. Smalling is a veteran center back, and one of the more senior players at United. United probably feel that even though he is surplus to requirements, a permanent move would better suit all parties. Except that is not what the club have briefed.
Instead, multiple reports say that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sees Smalling as “an integral part of the defence.” Oh dear. Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire will be United’s first-choice center back pairing this coming season. Axel Tuanzebe, fresh off a full season of senior football at Aston Villa, was perhaps the most impressive centerhalf on the preseason tour. When Smalling was not involved in the final two warm up matches, it seemed to be a sign that the writing was on the wall for the error-prone defender. Instead, it appears he is set to stay.
Marcos Rojo has long been surplus to requirements, but his wages have reportedly gotten in the way of any serious suitors for his services. The same is likely true for Phil Jones, although it’s unclear if the manager rates him as well. Even with Eric Bailly out injured for the next few months, United are currently on track to start the season with 6 senior center backs, only half of whom have any business in the squad at this point.
Come on Everton, come back with a real bid and free us from the tyranny of Chris Smalling.