Paulo Fonseca has made no secret his desire to bring Chris Smalling back to the fold. Manchester United has made no secret their desire to land €20 million for the 30-year-old defender. And while AS Roma and Manchester United have been working on this deal for almost six months, and have seemingly come close multiple times since March, United haven't backed down from their €20 million demand. You have to admire their resolution in these negotiations, and really Roma's dogged pursuit of Smalling, but at some point you just have to move on; no one is winning in this scenario, particularly not Smalling.
No one is suggesting the deal is dead, but if you read the tea leaves, Roma may be looking at alternate options, while Smalling may have legitimate offers coming from other clubs in Italy, Inter Milan in particular.
One name that may or may not be on Roma's wish list is none other than Antonio Rüdiger, who spent two years patrolling Roma's backline, including the clubs record setting 2016-2017 campaign. Whether he was an FFP victim or not, Rüdiger was one of many incredibly talented players sold by Roma in the late 2010s, moving to Chelsea on a €35 million move in the summer of 2017.
Rüdiger has had a pretty successful run with Chelsea, making at least 20 league appearances in each of his three seasons with the London-based club but has apparently slipped down manager Frank Lampard's pecking order, leading many to speculate that Chelsea will look to cash in on the 27-year-old central defender.
So far, Rüdiger is drawing the eyes of PSG, Barcelona, and yes, possibly even Roma. It's a sentimental story, no doubt, but it's fair to question whether Roma could outbid either of those clubs, especially as it seems like Chelsea are not open to loan + option formulas.
Rüdiger has plenty of life left in his legs and can play center-back, right-back and in either a three or four man backline; his return would be so much more than a fun narrative; he'd be a substantial but difficult to acquire addition.
But, like we said, when PSG and Barcelona get involved, money talks. With that in mind, Roma are reportedly eyeing Galatasaray's Marcão, a 24-year-old central defender from Brazil. Signed by Galatasaray in 2018, Marcão has made 53 appearances, including six starts in last season's Champions League. A six-foot tall naturally left-footed defender, Roma have reportedly offered a €15 million + 10% sell on fee for Marcão; a fee the club has reportedly agreed to pending the final approval of the club manager.
Having just signed Marash Kumbulla a week ago, Roma's need for a central defender isn't quite as pressing as it once seemed, but Smalling's calm and steady presence was critical to Fonseca's defense last season; a point Fonseca has made quite clear by asking for the player in no uncertain terms.
Of course, this all comes amidst the Max Allegri stories and word of an organizational revolution come October, which has the potential to make any Smalling update or non-update a statement on the club's commitment to Fonseca.
In other words, you know, typical Roma stuff.