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Fonseca Wants to Keep Smalling and Mkhitaryan Permanently

Easier said than done, but Fonseca has grown fond of his two Premiership castoffs.

AS Roma v KAA Gent - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: First Leg Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

We're in the doldrums of winter and still four months away from the summer shopping season, but since when has that ever stopped anyone from talking transfers? With Dan Friedkin set to take over the club as soon as this Friday, the cloud of uncertainty hovering over Roma's summer transfer plans has lifted somewhat. We still don't know how much Roma will have to spend, but at least we know who will be signing the checks come June.

Chances are Roma will follow their usual course this summer, chasing every winger and full-back on the market, but their first bit of business might be tying down a few of their Premiership odds and ends in the form of Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

We've spoken at length about Smalling's transition to Italian football and his subsequent impact on the club, and while it looked like Roma had a chance of hammering out a deal over the winter, Manchester United chose to play hardball, sticking to their €20 million(ish) valuation for the 30-year-old central defender.

Smalling has made no secret of his love for his new club, but the player’s willingness to stay (unfortunately) may not be enough, especially not with Everton and Spurs ready and willing to push out Roma, who could be easily outbid under normal circumstances but would be particularly compromised without the promise of Champions League revenue.

We haven't heard a ton from Fonseca on this matter, but following yesterday's match against Lecce, Fonseca pulled no punches when talking to Sky: (Follow that link to see him speaking English, too.)

Chris is a great, great man, a great, great professional...The adaptation (to Italian football) was very easy for him. He’s a boy that everyone loves in the club because he is a great professional.

I would like Chris to stay. We are speaking. I don’t know if it is possible because of the situation with Manchester United, but I would like so much for Chris to stay here with us because he is very important.

He is a great player, a great man with a great attitude every day and for all of these reasons I would be very happy if Chris stays.

Fonseca's English isn't quite as fluent as his Italian appears to be, but he is an impressive man in so many respects and deserves to be happy, so let's hope he gets his Smalling wish.

Roma's desire to keep Smalling is nothing new, but Fonseca went on to discuss the future of his other Premiership cast-off, Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Mkhi during this season got some injuries but he is returning now and he is proving his quality...Let’s see. He is a player with great decisions on the pitch and I would also like to keep Mkhi in our team.

When healthy Mkhitaryan's contributions to the club are obvious and enormous (as we saw yesterday), but Fonseca mentioned it right there—injuries. But Mkhitaryan hasn't just had "some” injuries as Fonseca claims, he's spent nearly half of his six-month tenure with Roma on the trainer's table, missing 16 games due to injury. Throw in the 10 games he missed with Arsenal the year prior, and a worrying pattern emerges.

Keeping Chris Smalling may be a purely financial question, but the prospect of retaining Mkhitaryan raises the question: should Roma keep him? With a total of 32 matches missed due to injury since the start of 2017-2018, investing three to four years and tens of millions in an increasingly injured 31-year-old might not be the shrewdest move for a rebuilding club.

Take the poll and tell us what you think...


Considering his injury history, should Roma keep Mkhitaryan long-term?

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