Tottenham Hotspur could present Roma defender Chris Smalling with the chance to return to the Premier League in 2023, according to an Italian report.
In 2023, Tottenham will want to strengthen their defence. As long as Antonio Conte remains in charge, one of their main targets has been Stefan de Vrij. The Dutchman will be out of contract with Inter Milan at the end of the season.
With Conte having worked with De Vrij before, winning Serie A together for Inter, a reunion on a free transfer would seemingly be good business for Tottenham.
However, it is by no means a given that Spurs will be able to secure De Vrij’s signature. There are other interested parties, while a report from Calciomercatoweb claims a renewal with Inter is not off the table either.
With that in mind, Tottenham are weighing up their other options. According to the Italian source, they are looking elsewhere in Serie A at another potential free transfer.
Per Calciomercatoweb, Antonio Conte “doesn’t stop thinking” about the possibility of signing Chris Smalling when his contract with Roma expires.
The former Manchester United star could become a free agent by the end of the season unless Roma can tie him down to a new deal.
His form for the Serie A side since joining in 2019 has been outstanding. Smalling has well and truly revived his career, putting in a man-of-the-match performance as Roma won the Europa Conference League last season.
Therefore, Jose Mourinho would love to keep him at his disposal for the 2023-24 season and beyond. That said, a few other clubs have been looking at Smalling in case he becomes available.
Inter and Juventus are known admirers from Italy. But according to the report, Conte could make a move to bring him back to the Premier League with Tottenham.
Indeed, Smalling is among Conte’s “very first choices” to strengthen the Spurs backline.
Chris Smalling should fit in well at Tottenham if he wants move
He has already been playing in a system similar to Conte’s while at Roma. Both under Paulo Fonseca and ex-Spurs boss Mourinho, Smalling has featured as the central defender in a back three.
From there, his performances have generally been dominant, as he has shaken off the inconsistency that sometimes followed him around at Manchester United.
Therefore, the 33-year-old could be worthy of a second chance in English football. In that case, Tottenham could be his takers.
It would be a boost for them to add an in-form centre-back who already knows the Premier League well. Furthermore, Conte and Mourinho do not get on particularly well. Hence, the Spurs boss would be thrilled to deprive one of his predecessors of such a vital player.
They would be hoping that Smalling could carry his Serie A form back over to his homeland. Furthermore, Conte would have to work out how to fit the Roma man into his current system; he would likely take the place of Eric Dier, although he might be able to cover on either side of the most central option.
Smalling is definitely a player who deserves fresh appreciation. It remains to be seen how he would feel about proving himself again in the Premier League.