Newcastle have joined the race for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, according to reports.
Smalling seriously impressed on loan at Roma last season, but the Serie A side are struggling to meet United’s demands for a permanent transfer.
The former England international has his heart set on a return to the Italian capital, but Roma need to convince United to accept a lower offer first.
The Premier League giants are not keen on that idea, as they know Smalling’s form over the past season could see him fetch a high transfer fee. United want £20m for his sale.
While hope remains in Italy that Roma could do that deal if their takeover goes through (which is expected to happen this month), several Premier League clubs are now on alert.
Arsenal, for example, are in need of a new defender. The Gunners have been linked with a bid for the 30-year-old.
Now, though, Newcastle have been given the chance to sign Smalling. That’s according to the Newcastle Chronicle, who remind of the Magpies’ interest in the player last summer.
The report claims Newcastle boss Steve Bruce is “looking at all of his options” in defence. Federico Fernandez, Ciaran Clark and Fabian Schar are all out of contract next summer.
Therefore, Bruce may need to overhaul his backline. And now, he has been offered the chance to sign Smalling.
The defender is looking to leave Old Trafford because he is not guaranteed regular first team football. That’s despite his good relationship with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his impressive form in recent months.
Hence, he could find himself making a switch to St James’ Park if he cannot return to Rome.
Smalling admitted he was “gutted” not to be able to finish the season with Roma after United refused to let him play for them in the final rounds of the Europa League.
Ultimately, he only missed one game, as Roma lost to Sevilla. But he was still disappointed not to be able to “finish what we started” after thanking the fans for the love they had shown him.
Other Italian sides, like Inter Milan and Juventus, are keeping an eye on his situation. However, Smalling’s preference remains to return to the Stadio Olimpico.
Fulham also keen on Smalling
Newcastle are not the only Premier League club aware of the opportunity. The report adds that Fulham are also keen on the defender.
Smalling, of course, got his break in professional football at Fulham more than a decade ago. He spent two seasons at Craven Cottage before joining United as a 20-year-old.
Having secured promotion back to the Premier League, Fulham could now try and lure their former player back to London.
However, Smalling is still dreaming of a return to Roma, having become a fans’ favourite in Italy. In fact, a recent report from The Sun claimed he would be willing to take a pay-cut to do so.