It was Rugani or Lovren, Lovren or Rugani. All along the pendulum swung in the favor of one or the other. One of the two would inevitably be the man to solidify the vulnerable Roma back line. Yet, when all is said and done it will be neither of them lining up at the heart of Roma’s defense.
In the end, all of those media reports turned out to be smoke and mirrors while Gianluca Petrachi moved for ‘Mister X’: Chris Smalling of Manchester United. The Englishman has fallen out of favor at Old Trafford after United’s big money for Harry Maguire this summer. Seen as surplus goods, the 29-year-old will arrive in the capital on loan for €3 million with an option to buy for a further €15 million, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
Smalling fits the mold of what Fonseca said was required of an incoming central defender. The manager asked for an experienced player with pace. Smalling has made 323 total appearnces for the Red Devils since his arrival from Fulham back in 2010. Along the way he has won two Premier League crowns, lifted two domestic cups, and a Europa League trophy. Smalling also has 31 caps for England.
Standing at nearly 6’4” (1.94m), Smalling is a well-built defender who is good in the air. He is also a good passer of the ball and reads the game well. According to Gazzetta, he has excellent pressing abilities. All of these attributes seem to fit the mold of a Fonseca center back and if Petrachi’s previous buys indicate anything, it’s that he brings in players for his coach’s system.
Reports say that the deal is in it’s final stages and once details are finalized Smalling will travel to Rome for a physical. Smalling will be the third Manchester United player to find his way to the peninsula after ex-teammates Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez signed with Inter recently. While Smalling likely won’t be available for Sunday’s derby, the international break next weekend will give him two weeks to integrate into the squad before Roma host Sassuolo.
With Petrachi finally landing a center back, his work will shift toward exits, along with possibly bringing in another winger and reserve striker. Stay tuned, Roma’s mercato isn’t closed yet.