Manchester United have confirmed that Chris Smalling has completed a season-long loan move to AS Roma.
The Englishman, who has made 323 appearances for the club, is no longer viewed as a starting option like he was under both Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal, both of whom highly rated the defender despite fans feeling differently.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not played Smalling in any of United’s opening three games as he seeks to cement the defensive partnership of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof, with Axel Tuanzebe as third choice.
The club confirmed on Friday evening that Smalling, or ‘Mike Smalldini’, had indeed secured a move to Italy.
Confirmation of @ChrisSmalling's loan move to AS Roma until June 2020. Good luck, Chris!
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 30, 2019
Italy is, of course, a place where defending is venerated more than any other major country, a place where the greats like Cafu and Fabio Cannavaro go to cement their status as titans of the game.
And now, enter Smalling. You Romans thought you knew gladiators, but you never knew the vegan boy from Maidstone who will, no doubt, snap Romelu Lukaku’s ankle at some point this season. Until now.
Supporters, on the whole, approved of the move, which forms part of a wider revamp engendered by Solskjaer.
If you told me that Ole would come in and get rid of Darmian, Smalling, Alexis, Lukaku, Herrera, Valencia, drop/replace Phil Jones, drop/replace Ashley Young I’d have thought it was a dream. We haven’t had the replacements but we’re without a doubt heading in the right direction.
— The Man Utd Way (@TheManUtdWay) August 30, 2019
• Chris Smalling → Roma
• Phil Jones dropped
• Marcos Rojo dropped
• Ashley Young benched
• Matteo Darmian → Parma
• Nemanja Matic benched
• Marouane Fellaini → LNTS
• Juan Mata benched
• Alexis Sanchez → Inter
• Romelu Lukaku → Inter
— Ⓡ (@utdrobbo) August 30, 2019
Good luck Chris, please stay there & never return.
— Wicky (@Wicknes007) August 30, 2019
Good luck pic.twitter.com/pFU7abO7oK
— lads lads lads (@SportCentral5) August 30, 2019
— Simon 🌐 (@xisimon_) August 30, 2019