No matter what metric you use, be it match ratings, advanced statistics, or even our Player of the Year poll, Chris Smalling remains one of Roma's most important players. Signed in August of 2019, Smalling has experienced a career's worth of change during his three years in Rome: multiple owners, multiple coaches, multiple injuries, a string of teammates, and joy and despair on the European stage.
Despite the depth and breadth of that change, Smalling has remained stoic as ever, providing Roma with poise and composure at the back. And it's not as if he's sitting back and collecting a paycheck either; Smalling has arguably been Roma's best player during the Friedkin era, keeping the backline clean with his vision, anticipation, and technique.
At 33 years old, Smalling should be on the back side of his career, but the veteran center-back keeps plugging along, so much so that one of Roma's chief rivals, Inter Milan, is reportedly planning a move for the English defender, who will become a free agent in June.
To that end, the Corriere dello Sport reports that Tiago Pinto is prepared to offer his star defender a two-year contract extension. While Smalling holds an option to extend his current deal for another year, the CdS reasons that, given his desire to return to the Champions League, he could be tempted by Inter Milan's offer, putting additional pressure on Pinto to retain Smalling.
According to these reports, Roma will not go beyond two years, nor will they raise his salary beyond its current €3.5 million mark, making this reported offer a de facto ultimatum. For his part, Smalling has requested time to weigh his options. Needless to say, if Roma wants to retain Chris Smalling, they better qualify for the Champions League.
We'll continue to monitor this story, but with rumors that José Mourinho is unhappy with the club's ability to match his ambitions, Roma has an awful lot on the line this spring.