The Chris Smalling transfer saga has rolled on all season, as it was always likely to do. With the English defender delivering some titanic performances in Serie A this season, it was in Smalling’s best interest to take stock of his options, even in the chaotic 2020 atmosphere. But, for the rest of us, it’s just a transfer story that we want to end. Even better if it can end with Roma getting everything they want out the deal.
“We are working on that,” Paulo Fonseca said on the subject earlier this summer. “I am confident that Smalling will also be able to play in the Europa League.”
It looks like Fonseca’s confidence was well-placed, as Il Romanista reports that Roma are closing in on a €15 million permanent transfer of Smalling to the capital (taking his total fee to €18 million ), with a further penalty payment of 1 million euros should Chris Smalling make an appearance in a potential semi-final fixture against his (current) parent club Manchester United. Why Manchester United would agree to this is beyond us, but we’re certainly not complaining.
Winning the Europa League itself is worth a shade over 20 million, but then there’s the real golden goose of direct entry into next season’s Champions League, which is worth nearly three times more just for getting out of the starting blocks of the 2020/21 Champions League campaign. It’s safe to say: Roma’s odds of achieving such a feat look better with Smalling in the team.
Gianluca Mancini rightfully has a lot of admirers, and newcomer Ibañez is turning heads with his current July form, but the experienced head who’s interceptions and blocks fit Fonseca’s backline like a glove is none other than Chris Smalling. Roma are third-favourites to win the Europa League this August, which seems both generous in overlooking the Giallorossi’s tendency (at all levels) to choke at the final hurdle, and an underestimation of the pedigree of Roma’s immediate opponents Sevilla. But it is what it is.
With Smalling secured as a permanent player, Roma will have their ducks lined up in a row by August. For Smalling’s services, the Lupi board are reportedly offering a three-year contract with the option to sign on for a fourth year.
That’ll mean Roma have paid a shade under 20 million euros to secure a defender who could be pushing his mid-thirties by the time he gets his curtain call in Rome. But win the Europa League, and that fee looks like a good investment and then some.