Financial Affairs

Roma boss keen to keep Man United’s Smalling after loan transfer

AS Roma want to keep Manchester United on loan Chris Smalling for at least one more season, manager Paulo Fonseca told ESPN.

The defender has settled in well in the Italian capital since arriving on loan last summer and Fonseca has said Smalling wants to stay at the Italian club beyond this season with his loan deal due to expire at the end of the campaign. . Sources told ESPN that although an agreement has yet to be reached to make his move permanent, Roma are confident it can be done.

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“I will do all I can to keep him in Rome next year as well,” Fonseca said. “I know he wants to stay, let’s see what happens.

“He’s an incredible man, so humble, so professional. He’s adored by the fans and has established himself as one of the leaders in the locker room.

“It is not easy for England center-backs to adapt to Italian football so quickly, the record is not good. But it has been incredible.”

Smalling missed Roma’s first four games this season, but has since been a regular at the first-team, starting 21 of Serie A’s next 22 games.

The 30-year-old, who joined United from Fulham in 2010, has two more years on his contract at Old Trafford.

Meanwhile, Fonseca rocked the midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo become one of the best players in Europe if he keeps improving.

Zaniolo, who arrived from Inter in the summer of 2018 to play a role in the deal that took hold Radja Nainggolan at the San Siro, suffered a season-ending cruciate ligament injury in January that will keep him out until late fall at the earliest.

The 20-year-old has established himself as one of Serie A’s most promising youngsters this season. He won his first caps for Italy last year, as well as calls to start at Euro 2020.

“He’s not just a wonderful natural talent, he’s a player who has improved tremendously this year,” added Fonseca. “I used to say he was like a wild man, following his instincts, but now he understands the game, understands the space, understands the decision-making.

“I have no doubt that in a few years he will be one of the best players not only in Italy but in all of Europe.”