Tottenham target Chris Smalling admits he has an ‘interesting decision to make’ regarding his Man Utd future after his current club boss at Roma made a statement of intent regarding his status.
The 30-year-old departed for Rome on a season long loan in the summer and by all accounts, has been a revelation in Serie A.
The 31-times capped England international has become a crucial cog in Roma’s defence, completing the full 90 minutes in 20 of his last 21 appearances for the club.
His impressive form led to Roma boss Paulo Fonseca recently declaring his desire to make Smalling’s move permanent in the summer, despite strong interest from Jose Mourinho’s Spurs.
“Chris is a great, great man, a great, great professional,” Fonseca told Sky Sports News.
“The adaptation (to Italian football) was very easy for him. He’s a boy that everyone loves in the club because he is a great professional.
“I would like Chris to stay. We are speaking. I don’t know if it is possible because of the situation with Manchester United, but I would like so much for Chris to stay here with us because he is very important.
“He is a great player, a great man with a great attitude every day and for all of these reasons I would be very happy if Chris stays.”
Now, also speaking to Sky, Smalling has addressed his manager’s comments and opened up on his late-career switch to Italy.
“When I first came it was exciting but also daunting because you’re not sure what to expect,” said Smalling.
“New country, new experience. But considering the way I’ve settled in, the love that I have felt, especially from the fans but everyone in Rome, it will be an interesting decision to make.
“Some of the other players said if you really hit the ground running, the love that you can have in this city is unbelievable.
“That’s really what I’ve felt and so have my family. Long may it continue.”
When asked if he was surprised Man Utd didn’t insert a call-back clause into his contract should they hastily require his services, the ex-Fulham centre-half said: “Not really. Even when I spoke to them, it was a case of ‘let’s have a good season, hopefully it all goes to plan, the team is successful and I am successful’ and at the end of the season we’ll sit down.
“That was the plan at the start of the season and obviously we’re not finished yet so come the end of the season we’ll see what the plan is.
“I spoke to [Ole Gunnar Solskjaer]… Over the previous years, I had been used to playing in nearly every game when fit.
“So to cut that in half, when you look around at other opportunities, there was nothing better than [Roma] that could have come up.
“We spoke openly and we made it happen.”
When asked about the compliments paid to him by Fonseca, Smalling added: “It’s great to hear. Having that belief and trust from the manager, from the coach, from the other players too – it’s helping me thrive on the pitch.”