Smalling cited as Arsenal overtake Man Utd in race for £27m Lille star

Chris Smalling

Manchester United look to have cooled their interest in Lille star Gabriel Magalhaes following Chris Smalling’s return to the club.

Gabriel is a target for several clubs across Europe this summer, including Everton and Napoli.

More recent reports though suggested United were leading the bidding and had held talks over a €30m (£27m) swoop.

However, it seems United may have had a change of heart. The imminent club-record swoop of Jadon Sancho means United may need to spend the remainder of their budget more carefully.

With that in mind, United have welcomed Chris Smalling back in their fold. The 30-year-old is back at Carrington following a season’s loan with Roma.

Smalling had hoped an extension could have been agreed to allow him to play in the conclusion of the Europa League. However, no agreement was reached, leaving the “gutted” player to express his dismay.

It now seems Roma’s failure to strike a deal could be more due to United’s thinking. Reports suggest the player could be given the chance to resurrect his career at Old Trafford after impressing in Italy.

Asked about Smalling’s future at his press conference on Tuesday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer suggested he was back in his thinking.

“I think Chris has shown over his career at Man United how valuable he is for Man United,” Solskjaer said.


“And this season was about him being a regular, going to Roma, showing and proving how good a centre-back he is.

“I wanted to give Harry, Vic [Victor Lindelof] and maybe Axel [Tuanzebe] a chance. We found out that was the best for him to go to Roma, play for a year.

“Now he’s coming back and Chris has shown this season that he’ll be valuable.

“I’ve been speaking to Chris throughout and I’ve been delighted with his season.”


READ MORE: Old boy warns Man Utd Jadon Sancho could become next Memphis Depay



Arsenal in for Gabriel

Gabriel Magalhaes, Neymar TEAMtalk

As a result, reports in France state Arsenal now lead the chase for Gabriel Magalhaes.

According to France Bleu Nord, Arsenal have stepped up the chase. The paper claims the Gunners now leading negotiations to sign the Brazilian defender.

The paper claims Magalhaes still favours a move to the Premier League and would be willing to join Arsenal should a deal be agreed.

Lille’s president, Gerard Lopez, also believes that Gabriel is destined to join a top club.

“I feel he is among the top five dominant central defenders in Europe right now,” Lopez said.

“His statistics, which aren’t well covered outside of France, shows that his percentage for winning duels is pretty unheard of in a league that’s extremely physical.

“He’s an absolute machine, so to me, he’s well on his way – if not this year – to potentially a really big club. I’m certain he’s on his way to the Brazilian national team at some point.

“He’s been linked to two clubs in the UK and he’s clearly been linked to other clubs that have either enquired or moved forward with proposals for him, but we’re not in a hurry and we’re not playing right now.”