September 18, 2021

Solskjaer hints Smalling could stay at Man Utd following Roma return

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The Englishman impressed during his time in the Italian capital and could be a fixture in the Red Devils’ first team set-up next term

Chris Smalling could play for Manchester United next season after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left the door open for the defender to stay at the club.

The centre-back impressed during his season-long loan spell at Roma and admitted he was “gutted” to be leaving the club before they had finished their Europa League campaign.

The terms of Smalling’s loan meant his time in Italy – which was extended to allow him to complete the Serie A campaign – ended before the resumption of the knockout stages in the Europa League

A new long-term loan deal or a permanent transfer could not be agreed for the England international so he will now return to Old Trafford.  

Solskjaer is on the hunt for a centre-back in the summer window and it is understood that Smalling returning on a permanent basis could be an option if they can’t get any of the targets they are looking at for the right price.

Indeed, when asked about Smalling’s future on Tuesday afternoon, the United boss stated that the player “will be valuable” going forward.

“I think Chris has shown over his Manchester United career how valuable he is at Manchester United,” Solskjaer said. 

“This season was about him being a regular and going to Roma and showing how good a centre-back he is, I wanted to give Harry [Maguire], Vic[tor Lindelof] and maybe Axel [Tuanzebe] a chance.

“It was best for him to go and play for a year in Roma and he has shown he will be valuable, I’ve been speaking to Chris throughout. I’ve been delighted with his season.”

Smalling is not available for the final few games of United’s Europa League campaign and although some of the players looked fatigued in their final league matches, Solskjaer warned not to expect vast changes from the sides he has fielded earlier in the competition.

“Jesse will be starting but the team won’t be too different from the team that played LASK away” Solskjaer explained. 

“We know it will be a difficult game. It wasn’t a 5-0 difference between the teams. We were winning 2-0 after 60 minutes and scored three in the last five so we know we have to perform and there’s opportunities for players to stake a claim – if they get through,

“The players want to play, they don’t want the break, they’re bothering me all the time – they don’t want to rest, they want to play. It’s not easy to say they’re rested, especially with players of that quality. 

“But we go into that tournament wanting to win – I hope the players need to win, like I do. For me as a coach to lift the trophy is a different feeling to when you were a player because you know you represent so much more than just a team. 

“For me we go into this tournament with players wanting to win so they won’t be given a break, they will be called upon.”