Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that he allowed Chris Smalling to complete a season-long loan move to Roma as he couldn’t promise him first-team football at Manchester United.
The 29-year-old had featured prominently for United after Solskjaer had replaced Jose Mourinho but he has slipped down the pecking order following the arrival of Harry Maguire.
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) August 30, 2019
Maguire and Victor Lindelof have been Solskjaer’s first-choice centre-backs this season while academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe appears to be third in line after being named on the bench in each of United’s opening three fixtures.
Solskjaer was keen to move at least one of his seven senior central defenders on before the European transfer window closes on Monday and Smalling is currently in Rome to finalise the switch.
Speaking about Smalling, Solskjaer said: ‘It’s just come up the last couple of days, this opportunity for Chris. Of course, we sat down yesterday and discussed it. At the moment we’ve got six fit centre-backs.
‘I couldn’t promise Chris regular football. He’s on the plane over now and I think he’ll enjoy the experience over there.’
Roma are reportedly paying £2.7m to take Smalling on loan for the 2019-20 campaign and there is no option or obligation for them to buy him next summer.
The Serie A side have been on the lookout for a replacement for Kostas Manolas who joined Napoli and had been linked with Toby Alderweireld of Spurs and Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren.
Smalling is the longest-serving player at United having joined the club in a £10m deal from Fulham in 2010 and he has three years remaining on his contract after signing an extension four days before Solskjaer’s arrival last December.
The England international has made 323 appearances for United, scoring 18 goals.