Chris Smalling has joined Roma from Manchester United on a permanent transfer believed to be around €18m in total.
Smalling has joined the Giallorossi on a four-year deal. The deal was successfully completed because a fee was agreed before the 7pm Italy transfer window deadline.
Smalling spent last season in Italy with Roma, where he impressed in his 37 appearances, before returning to United at the end of the campaign.
The 30-year-old defender had been deemed surplus to requirements at United on his return to Old Trafford in pre-season and he will now make Rome his home.
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Smalling proved to be a solid defender for Roma during the course of the 2019/2020 season. He was the main defensive man for Roma coach Paulo Fonseca, with 37 appearances overall. He managed to play really well in the heart of the three-man defensive line.
He was a key player in certain crucial moments of the season: he made a save right on the goal line in a match against SPAL and his header against Torino sealed the Giallorossi qualification to the next Europa League.
Although he played really well, I don’t think he made a considerable impact on Roma’s defensive performances: Fonseca’s team gave away 55 goals this season. It wasn’t Smalling's fault, but he didn’t save Roma from suffering defensively either.
I think that Italian clubs like his profile because of his physical abilities: he’s really strong and Serie A’s defenders tend/need to be really tough on strikers. But the main reason lies in his experience, especially in European competitions: let’s take Roma as an example; without Smalling, Fonseca will be forced to play Sevilla with Gianluca Mancini, Ibanez and Aleksandar Kolarov as the three defenders.
Other than Kolarov, Mancini and Ibanez, there are only really young players who cannot guarantee the level of experience and mental toughness as Smalling in order to progress in Europe. If you want to compete at a European level, veterans like Smalling can be really useful.