Why Man United would commit a massive blunder by loaning out Smalling
According to Metro, Man United centre-back, Chris Smalling, is on the verge of securing an exit from Old Trafford before the deadline, with the report claiming that the 29-year-old has agreed to join Serie A outfit Roma on a season-long loan deal.
The 31-cap England international is way down the pecking order under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Metro understands that the manager is keen to offload some defenders to reduce the wage bill.
As well as Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, Smalling has found himself lost in the cold since the start of the ongoing Premier League season, with Solskjaer preferring the partnership of Victor Lindelof and new big-money signing Harry Maguire at the heart of the backline.
Surprisingly enough, though, Smalling has failed to make it to any of the matchday squads for the first three games of the Premier League along with Jones and Rojo, with the manager apparently happy to have youngster Axel Tuanzebe on the bench as an emergency back-up.
The 29-year-old, who is currently the club’s longest-serving player and one of the few remaining stars at Old Trafford to have played under Sir Alex Ferguson, emerged as one of Solskjaer’s trusted lieutenants at the back following his appointment as the interim manager last season but the Norwegian seemingly doesn’t have Smalling in his long-term plans moving forward.
And, as per the report, Smalling has agreed to depart Old Trafford on a loan deal before the deadline, although any potential agreement would not include an option to buy. The Italians are short of options at the back after selling Kostas Manolas to Napoli and Smalling will be expected to fill the void temporarily if a move materializes.
To put things into perspective, it is true that Smalling has been left out of United’s matchday squads in the Premier League this month but the decision to loan him out for the remainder of the campaign could backfire.
Lindelof and Maguire have been given the nod in the first few games but United need to ensure that they have adequate depth in their squad to excel on all fronts and losing an experienced head like Smalling could come back to bite them later in the season when injuries usually enter the equation.
The 2-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace was a reminder that United are still very much capable of returning to their old lacklustre ways.
Both Maguire and Lindelof looked a tad uncomfortable on the day after promising displays against Chelsea and Wolves, sending warning signs amongst the faithful that the Red Devils could struggle to hit great heights due to inconsistencies at the back.
And Smalling, who is currently in his tenth season at the club, could play a vital role for United in the domestic cup competitions and the Europa League even if Solskjaer chooses to continue with Lindelof and Maguire.
Phil Jones and Rojo have proved in the past that their fitness cannot be trusted, while Tuanzebe is relatively new to the scene, meaning that United could potentially find themselves short of quality cover at the back should either of the first-choice centre-backs be sidelined with an injury.
With Smalling, Jones, Lindelof, Rojo, Bailly and Maguire all in the ranks, United have six centre-backs competing for two roles every week and, while that is absolutely unnecessary, the Red Devils should prioritize offloading Rojo and Bailly, given that both of them have proven themselves to be impetuous defenders with a poor injury record at Old Trafford.
A winner of 8 major honours with United, the 29-year-old has amassed an eye-watering 323 appearances for the club and it would be such a shame if the Red Devils choose to loan him out after such an illustrious spell.
Moreover, the fans should remember that Smalling was arguably United’s best centre-back last season, with the veteran assuming the role of a leader at the back and emerging as the saviour on a number of occasions amidst all the defensive crisis at the club.
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The 29-year-old still has plenty to offer at Old Trafford and United need to pull of out this move at the earliest to avoid a shameful blunder.