Manchester United: Ed Woodward forced to offload an iconic figure to raise funds this summer

Manchester United need to offload some before adding new faces.

It shouldn’t have been a distant memory for the Manchester United devotees. Actually, it has been one of the most glorious reminiscences relating to Manchester United over the past few years. Not only the ones standing on the away balcony of the Etihad Stadium but the Red Devils all across the globe were dancing and jumping in absolute awe, following the tone set with the final act orchestrated by none other than Chris Smalling on a sunny afternoon on April 7, 2018.

At that moment, none would have imagined that the day would come so early when they will have to be ready to see the individual, who had just guided them to a fairytale comeback against one of their arch-rivals, namely Manchester City, leaving the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. The best of the best prophets might have got that wrong.

And here we are standing two years later, speculating about what would the right price in exchange for one of the unsung heroes behind United’s recent success, if they have attained any. Smalling’s career, in recent years, has been nothing better than a sinking ship. He needed the touch of revival that he eventually got with a season-loan loan move to AS Roma at the start of the 2019-20 campaign.

Having made 323 appearances (according to the stats provided by Transfermarkt) during his nine-year stay at the Mancunian club, Chris Smalling has had obtained two Premier League titles, two FA Cups, one English League Cup, three community shield, and one Europa League title, which has still been the last touch of silverware Manchester United enjoyed in the year 2017.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign, in particular, has seen him making only 16 appearances in total for the Manchester-based side. Henceforth, it was an obvious and bright decision to join his former United teammate Henrikh Mkhitaryan at AS Roma, an attempt to rejuvenate the pride and faith, and a risk that he had to take in order to restore the self-belief.

In Italy, Smalling went on to play 37 matches, scoring three and providing two assists (though it was not his department) last campaign. Smalling’s aura around the Roma back-four made the team’s defensive structure even stronger, and hence, the Englishman soon emerged as one of their fan favourites.

Despite missing out on the next season’s Champions League spot, AS Roma showed their interest in keeping Smalling for another year on loan. Yet, on the other hand, Manchester United were unwilling to conclude another loan but interested in a permanent deal for the 30-year-old centre-half. And consequently, the ultimate situation arose: Roma had to pay £20m to secure the services of Manchester United defender on a permanent basis.

Although Roma chose to move out of the deal as an initial reaction of United’s action, it is now reported that the Italian side have reinvigorated their interest in Chris Smalling and now are willing to pay what United asked for the defender.

It is understood that the Giallorossi have reached an agreement on the Czech attacker, Patrik Schick, with the German club RB Leipzig willing to pay Roma €27 million-plus bonuses. This financial boost could help Roma attain the signature of the centre-back.

Manchester United, like AS Roma, are in the market for a centre-back. Some decent names have already been linked with a summer move to Old Trafford. However, it is widely speculated that the Mancunian club would be unable to add new centre-back should they fail to cut off the burden that they already have stored on their shoulders.

Selling Smalling will apparently raise United’s transfer budget. And should more than one name move away from the Old Trafford this summer, fans could hope for a decent centre-back signing going forward. Nevertheless, everything must be quick as the club have less than three weeks before the 2020-21 Premier League season commences.

Who do you think is going to be United’s next summer signing?