Deadline day was a stressful one for Chris Smalling as his proposed deal to Roma went through a few ‘on, off, then on again’ hoops.
Eventually Smalling got his wish, with Sky Sports reporting Roma could pay a total of £18 million for the defender if all add-ons are achieved.
Smalling had a strong year on loan at Roma last season and it was a surprise there was not more interest in him during the summer.
Amid a poor defensive start for United in the Premier League, there were even calls from some fans to keep him.
Smalling, 30, has enjoyed a successful return to Roma so far.
He made his second debut on Thursday night in a Europa League draw which ended 0-0, but he was substituted off after 56 minutes.
At the weekend he played all 90 minutes in his first Serie A game since July.
Smalling had a big impact on Roma’s defence, helping them to keep a clean sheet against Fiorentina.
For context, Roma had only kept one clean sheet in the five preceding Serie A matches.
In the two Serie A games leading into this, Roma had conceding five goals, three against Milan and two against Benevento.
Smalling’s impact was praised by manager Paulo Fonseca who sounded pleased, but unsurprised.
Fonseca told TMW: “I have always said that ithe is important for us, it is important to have a player with his leadership in a squad with many young players.”
Smalling won five aerial duels, completed 92 per cent of his passes, won two tackles and made two interceptions.
It was the type of display Roma wanted from him, and it is good to see Smalling playing well.
There’s no agenda here. The time was probably right to move on for all parties, and it would have been wrong of United to deny him a move for the sake of a few million.
Smalling had a good and under appreciated United career, and the curent defence has since been much improved over the past few weeks.
This was the move he wanted, and it is no surprise to see him go in and make an instant impact.
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