Silly season is a great time to be a writer at Chiesa di Totti. There are usually five new rumors every day that can provide some interesting fodder for the site, and even though the summer transfer market hasn’t even started, this post-season rumor mill has been no exception. Everything from the return of familiar faces like Gianluca Scamacca to Davide Frattesi to the signing of big-name forwards like Alvaro Morata and Mauro Icardi has been floated in the media; what’s more, the Giallorossi’s free agent signings have already intrigued, with Houssem Aouar and Evan Ndicka showing off the muscle that José Mourinho and Tiago Pinto bring to free agency decisions. Yet in some respects, the renewal of Chris Smalling’s contract with Roma may prove to be a more influential move than any of those rumors by themselves.
It’s honestly incredible how influential Smalling has been on Roma’s backline since he signed with the Giallorossi in 2019. For context, here’s how we covered his signing as it happened:
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.
Kind of lukewarm, no? Which makes perfect sense: Smalling was coming off a mediocre season for Manchester United, and he was being directly replaced by the hot new thing in English defenders, Harry Maguire. Well, we all know how it’s gone since then, as Maguire has struggled to find any form since joining Manchester United while Smalling has consistently shown himself to be among the best defenders in Serie A. He led all defenders in Serie A last season with a duel success rate of 69%; similarly, he rated second in Serie A for most successful blocks with 36, and he only lost an attacking player on the dribble eight times through 2,500 minutes of play.
That consistent excellence (along with overall durability) made it such that as his contract expired, Smalling became linked to several other major Italian clubs including both Inter and A.C. Milan. Today’s renewal announcement thankfully puts those rumors to bed for good, as Smalling has clearly signaled his intent to stick with Roma for the rest of his career by signing this renewal.
Here’s the full press release for your perusal:
AS Roma is delighted to announce that Chris Smalling has penned a new contract with the club until 30 June 2025.
“Choosing to remain at Roma was an easy decision to make,” Chris commented. “I’m playing the best football of my career here and my family and I have felt so welcome in this wonderful city from day one.”
“What’s more, this club is clearly taking great strides forward in all areas. I want to thank our fans too: the unconditional support they have shown me helped make the decision even easier.”
Since joining in the summer of 2019, Smalling has racked up 143 appearances and ten goals in four seasons at Roma, helping us lift the first-ever UEFA Europa Conference League in 2022.
“During his time at the club, Chris has distinguished himself not only for his performances on the field but also for the sense of belonging he has shown, which has led him to tie his future to the club,” said Tiago Pinto, AS Roma General Manager, Football.
“We are delighted to be able to count on both his defensive prowess and his leadership skills. He is a key dressing-room figure and a role model for the younger lads in our squad.”
We may be weeks away from the transfer market actually opening, but moves like this make me confident in Tiago Pinto’s continued leadership as a GM. Congrats to Smaldini, and congrats to Romanisti everywhere.