Roma are expected to make a fresh offer for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, while Inter are also weighing up interest in the 30-year-old – but only if Milan Skriniar leaves San Siro.
Deemed surplus to requirements in Manchester by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Smalling was rejuvenated when he joined Roma on loan last summer, playing 30 league games in a single season for only the second time in his career to date.
United have been open to selling in order to raise funds for their own transfer interests and Roma have long been keen on completing a permanent transfer, although negotiations have dragged out and have so far failed to yield an agreement.
An initial €12m (£11m) offer was reported to have been rejected ‘out of hand’ by United earlier this month as they are seeking a figure closer to €20m (£18m). Smalling has been training in a ‘bubble’ away from the rest of the squad in anticipation of securing a move away from Old Trafford before next week’s transfer deadline.
The latest from Italian reporter Gianluca Di Marzio is that being met with refusal for their opening offer has not dampened Roma’s desire to take Smalling back to Stadio Olimpico.
The story concedes that the negotiations have become ‘exhausting’, although Di Marzio notes that Roma continue to ‘leak optimism’ that an agreement will be reached in time.
Gazzetta dello Sport also report on the saga, explaining that Roma are ready to submit an improved second offer for Smalling, but are not prepared to go beyond €15m (£13.7m). Any fee, of course, is in addition to the €3m (£2.7m) they paid to take him on loan last year. Even accounting for a total package of £16.4m, including the initial loan payment, it still falls short of United’s valuation.
Roma’s rumoured offer is not expected be a straightforward purchase, however. Instead, Gazzetta expect it to take the form of a second loan, but with an obligatory purchase clause. That could mean the money wouldn’t make its way to Old Trafford until the summer of 2021.
There is also talk of interest from Inter, where Antonio Conte has assembled a number of former Premier League players – including Smalling’s former United teammates Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Young – in an attempt to finally topple Juventus in Serie A.
Inter’s offer, according to Gazzetta, could be a loan fee of €3m or €4m and an option to buy for €18m. That would give United the price they want, but there is no guarantee Inter would go on to make it permanent because it would not be an obligation. The key condition of Smalling joining Inter at all is a suitable offer in excess of €50m coming in for Skriniar.