Roma boss Paulo Fonseca has insisted that he hopes Chris Smalling joins the club on a permanent basis from Man Utd this summer.
The 30-year-old joined the Giallorossi on a season-long loan deal last summer, and he has certainly impressed in the heart of their backline so far this year.
Smalling has made 28 appearances to date, even chipping in with two goals and an assist to offer a threat in the opposition box too.
Having adapted well to life in Rome and to Serie A, it appears as though it has been a successful move for both parties thus far, with opportunities likely to be limited for him at Old Trafford especially after the arrival of Harry Maguire last summer.
Smalling has evidently made a big impression on current boss Fonseca, who has insisted that he would like him to stay at the Stadio Olimpico beyond his current loan spell with Roma continuing to battle for a top-four finish in Serie A this season, and the Champions League qualification that comes with it.
“He surprised me,” Fonseca told A Bola, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “He’s a defender that had never left England and he arrived in a league very demanding of tactics, where details make the difference.
“Chris adapted very quickly. He’s an extraordinary guy, very intelligent. He has characteristics that I really appreciate in the centre.
“He’s fast, nearly unbeatable in one-on-ones. He has a great ability to read the play and anticipate. He was very important for this club.
“If possible, I would like him to stay. He’s a great professional and person, it’s a pleasure to have him here with us.”
Fonseca may yet be left disappointed though, as the Mail go on to report that although Roma are said to want to agree on a permanent switch, United want £25m for the centre-half and the Italian giants aren’t prepared to splash out that high a fee on him.
In turn, it remains to be seen if a compromise can be reached on his transfer fee, or if Smalling is forced to return to Old Trafford at the end of this season and either fight for his place or search for an alternative solution.
Nevertheless, for both Roma and Smalling, it seems like the smart thing to do to secure a long-term deal together given how well they’ve settled, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemingly has enough depth in defence with Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe still available to step in for first-choice pairing Maguire and Victor Lindelof when needed.