Manchester United were under heavy pressure to engineer a squad overhaul this summer. While new signings were made, it was an agreeable consensus that the Red Devils ought to have spent more, a plight evident in their thin list of options to choose from in certain areas this campaign.
Even with regard to departures, not all choices were met with clear appreciation. While the sale of out-of-form striker Romelu Lukaku was treated with mixed results, the loan move of Alexis Sanchez was a further thinning out of their attacking options.
In that regard, the loaning out of Chris Smalling to Roma appeared to be a rare move that seemed acceptable to all. However, his loan showings now carry an interesting flair to them.
Chris Smalling has been impeccable so far with the Serie A giants.
In fact, the English defender is yet to be dribbled past this season, showing exceptional excellence in 1-on-1 situations. In a shocking comparison, Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk, who made headlines last campaign for not letting a single player dribble past him, has already seen the dreaded feat occur thrice.
Updated league stats (16th March, 2020): Virgil van Dijk 6, Chris Smalling 2
This statistic was largely popular on social media as United fans commented on Smalling’s sudden bout of brilliance.
Of course, the centre-back wasn’t always a dreaded name at Old Trafford with past instances seeing him score and defend quite well. It was only in recent seasons with injuries and form marring their backline that Smalling was deemed to be surplus to requirements.
This has led many to wonder what will the future hold for him once the loan period expires. There were murmurs of an interest from Roma to make the loan move permanent although the presence of such a clause still remains in speculation.
Should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and company welcome Smalling back next summer?