Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says he joked with Chris Smalling about his limited passing ability.
Mourinho’s comments to a Portuguese paper have ignited talk that Smalling is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford and yesterday reports claimed the England man has been told he can leave the club.
West Ham, West Brom and Everton are all chasing the 27-year-old, who the Daily Telegraph are reporting is available for £15million.
Mourinho completed the signing of Benfica’s Victor Lindelof last night, for a fee which could rise to £39.6million and he is expected to take the place of Smalling – a player, who started just 13 Premier League games last season.
Smalling did though start the Europa League final win over Ajax, but while discussing his tactics for the Stockholm final win Mourinho was far from complimentary about Smalling.
“Last year showed us that we need options and quality to add depth to the squad,” Mourinho told Expresso.
He claimed his long-ball tactics in the final were employed because Smalling’s passing and ability to bring the ball out from the back was not good enough.
“I told my players that for me, beautiful is not giving our opponents what they want,” he added. “I even joked with Smalling, ‘With your feet, we’re for sure not playing out from the back!’ ”