Manchester United’s decision to clear players from their roster has been met with a mixed response so far this season. The sale of Romelu Lukaku and the loaning out of Alexis Sanchez, while clearing expensive talent who weren’t performing regularly, has also severely limited their offensive options up-front.
Meanwhile, the loaning out Chris Smalling, while initially hailed as a way to decrease the numbers of centre-backs in their roster, is now being viewed a bit differently.
Smalling has been exceptional as a defender for AS Roma, a feat that Manchester United fans have hailed.
Now, we are aware the English centre-back isn’t entirely cut off from his parent club.
Speaking to the Athletic, Smalling reveals that he still keeps in touch with his former teammates and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer too, stating: “I still speak to all the players – I was there a long time, they’re my friends. Tough times there at the moment, but the manager drops me messages. He’s watching me, he saw I’ve been man of the match and congratulated me.”
There has been much speculation about whether or not he would rejoin United in the summer.
Smalling certainly appeared to address that by commenting: “I think I’ll be a better player when I go back to Manchester next May.”
United’s choice regarding him will be vital. While there is no doubt about his marked improvement, the present defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof is certainly a solid one.
In terms of alternate options, Phil Jones has been mixed in the spot while Axel Tuanzebe has shown incredible promise.
As of such, where and how exactly Smalling would fit upon a potential return remains to be seen.
When Solskjaer has experimented with a back-three season, Rojo as the third defender has been unconvincing at times and here Smalling could find his possible spot.