Man United revamp: Smalling latest player heading for Italy
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United’s revamp under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has seen Chris Smalling become the third player to leave the club for the Italian league this month.
Smalling, who had been at United for nine years, signed for Serie A team Roma on loan until June 2020 after falling out of favor following the arrival of center back Harry Maguire for a world-record fee for a defender. United confirmed the loan move and said in a tweet: “Good luck, Chris!”
Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have already left United to join Inter Milan. Sanchez’s loan move to Inter was announced late Thursday, though United will reportedly still be paying part of his wages.
The opportunity for Smalling to join Roma only came up in the last few days, Solskjaer said Friday.
“We sat down yesterday and discussed it,” Solskjaer said. “At the moment, we’ve got six fit center backs. I couldn’t promise Chris regular football.
“I think he’ll enjoy the experience over there. It’s a big club, a good league. There’s not many English players who have had the chance to play in Italy and I’m sure he’ll come back stronger and better for it.”
Solskjaer had similar sentiments about Sanchez, who was reportedly getting 500,000 pounds ($600,000) a week at United but didn’t live up to expectations following his high-profile move from Arsenal in January 2018.
“Alexis needed to go — at the moment, we know he’s been here for 18 months and it’s not really worked out for him,” Solskjaer said. “For him to restart and get himself playing regularly and scoring goals, that will only benefit everyone in the end.
“For us, we’re going to watch every weekend to see Romelu and Alexis playing together. He (Sanchez) will come good for them.”
United veered away from its recent approach of signing marquee players and this offseason brought in young talent from Britain instead. Maguire, right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka and winger Daniel James joined for a combined fee of nearly $200 million.
Solskjaer is also intent on trimming the squad, with Matteo Darmian — a full back who has never been a regular since moving from Torino in 2015 — also potentially heading for Italy.
“I can see maybe Matteo (leaving),” Solskjaer said. “There has been some interest in Matteo over in Italy, wanting to go back home.”
United has picked up four points from its first three Premier League matches and plays at Southampton on Saturday.