Manchester United have reportedly set a £25million asking price for Chris Smalling to seal a permanent transfer to Roma.
The England international had his struggles at Old Trafford but is now impressing hugely during a temporary spell in Serie A, which could yet turn into a permanent move.
Still, it’s not yet guaranteed that Smalling will end up at Roma beyond this season, with the Sun explaining that they’ve urged United to lower their demands for the 30-year-old.
If Roma cannot afford this deal, then Arsenal should be in as quick as a flash to try to bring this in-form defender to the Emirates Stadium.
Smalling is looking a player reborn after leaving United, so Gooners shouldn’t worry too much about his unconvincing final few years in Manchester – after all, the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay have also all improved tremendously after leaving this dysfunctional club.
And besides, Arsenal urgently need a new centre-back and may struggle to find anyone this good for such a generous transfer fee.
It’s been a pretty dire season for the north Londoners as they’ve relied on the unconvincing pairing of David Luiz and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, with both players perhaps looking set to be axed by manager Mikel Arteta in the future.
William Saliba will link up with Arsenal next summer after returning to Saint-Etienne on loan for this season, while Dayot Upamecano has been linked as a top summer target for the club by the Daily Star.
That report also mentioned interest in a short-term deal for Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng, so it seems pretty clear that Arteta wants as many other options in central defence as possible after what he’s witnessed from Luiz and Sokratis so far.
Still, Smalling would be a far superior option to the in-decline Boateng, while £25m is around half what AFC would have to pay for Upamecano, according to that Daily Star report.
United may well be less likely to sell Smalling to a big six rival, or may at least hike that price up, but in truth anything up to around £35m looks worth paying for Arsenal right now.
That’s pretty big money for a player who’ll turn 31 next season, but he could be an ideal mentor for youngster Saliba in his first season with the Gunners’ first-team, with his Premier League experience invaluable for a club so badly in need of proven winners.
It will certainly be interesting to see how this saga develops, but the Sun’s report surely puts a permanent move to Roma in doubt, and if so we really think Arsenal should put themselves at the front of the queue.