Chris Smalling: Manchester United defender joins Roma on loan

Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling had not been named in a matchday squad for Manchester United this season

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has joined Roma on loan.

The Serie A side will pay €3m (£2.7m) to keep the player for a year.

Smalling has spent nine seasons at Old Trafford, winning the league title twice, but had fallen out of favour under boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"This is the perfect opportunity for me. The chance to experience a new league, with a big team that has got big aspirations is exactly what I needed," Smalling said.

"We are pleased to bring a player like Chris, who has so much experience, to Roma," said Roma sporting director Gianluca Petrachi.

Smalling, 29, joined United from Fulham in 2010 and extended his contract at Old Trafford to 2022 in December.

"This opportunity for Chris has come up in the last couple of days," said Solskjaer on Friday.

"We've got six fit centre-backs. I couldn't promise him regular football."

"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."

Roma sold Greece centre-back Konstantinos Manolas to Napoli for £32m this summer.

Smalling made 34 appearances last season but was on the fringes of the squad, with fellow England defender Harry Maguire - an £80m summer signing - and Sweden international Victor Lindelof established as the first-choice centre-back partnership.

However Solskjaer said Marcos Rojo, who has been linked with AC Milan, Marseille and Monacoexternal-link, is "staying definitely", along with fellow centre-backs Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe.

"We've got a squad now that's less in numbers but still big enough and strong enough to have coverage in all positions," added Solskjaer, who also confirmed Italian right-back Matteo Darmian is likely to be returning to his homeland.

Smalling is the fifth high-profile departure from United this summer, with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez going to Inter Milan, and Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera leaving after their contracts expired.

'He needed to go'

Alexis Sanchez in Inter Milan kit
Sanchez will link up with former United team-mate Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan

Chile forward Sanchez arrived from Arsenal in a swap deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan in January 2018, but the 30-year-old has managed five goals in 45 games during a miserable spell.

United are believed to be subsidising his near £400,000-a-week wages during his season-long loan deal, after Inter spent £74m on Lukaku.

"Alexis needed to go," said Solskjaer. "He has been here for 18 months and it's not really worked out for him.

"For him as well, to restart and get himself playing regularly, getting himself scoring goals, that loan will only benefit everyone in the end.

"We're going to watch every weekend now to see Romelu and Alexis playing together. We had a decision to make and I'm trusting Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood to be our centre-forwards."

After making his first start in the last Premier League game of last season, 17-year-old Greenwood has come off the bench in all three of United's league games this term.

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