Manchester United are reportedly set to axe Chris Smalling in January, provided that their £38m move for Victor Lindelof is completed this month.
Jose Mourinho will be looking to strengthen his squad where possible to maintain their current momentum, with the Red Devils having now won six consecutive games in all competitions.
According to The Daily Star, the Portuguese tactician is still keen to wrap up a deal for Benfica defender Lindelof, although the £38m deal has been complicated and could yet go either way.
In the event that the Swedish international does arrive at Old Trafford though, it’s claimed that Mourinho will keep Lindelof, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly as his preferred four options at the heart of his defence, leaving Smalling as the odd man out.
That would be a massive kick in the teeth for the 27-year-old who was a pivotal figure under Louis van Gaal last season, but he just hasn’t been able to make an entirely positive impression on his latest manager.
That argument could be countered by the fact that the England international returned to the starting line-up in the win over Middlesbrough at the weekend and was even handed the captain’s armband, so Mourinho must surely value his qualities and leadership to some extent.
Nevertheless, the Star don’t seem to share that sentiment as they claim that Arsenal and Everton will be monitoring the situation carefully and will swoop for Smalling if he is free to leave.
Things seemed to take a turn for the worse for the former Fulham starlet last year when Mourinho publicly criticised his lack of determination to play through the pain barrier.
It turned out to be a relatively serious injury that sidelined him for some time, and so it remains to be seen if time has changed Mourinho’s opinion or if he is still looking to replace Smalling.