Former England defender Chris Smalling will sign a new two-year deal at Roma this week, continuing his Italian renaissance in the face of interest from the Premier League.
i understands that an announcement from the Italian capital about his new contract is imminent, with the 33-year-old set to disappoint Juventus, Inter Milan and a clutch of Premier League clubs who have been monitoring his availability.
Smalling, who has been in Serie A since leaving Manchester United on loan in 2019, would have been a free agent in the summer but after months of negotiations he has now agreed a new deal.
It caps a season in which he has played some of the best football of his career and has been tipped for an England recall by manager Jose Mourinho.
Smalling is a huge favourite in Italy, having bounced back from a disappointing end to his ten-year Manchester United career at Roma. It has often played out under the radar in his home country but Smalling embraced the adventure from the outset and is now fluent in Italian and viewed as a dressing room leader and the most in-form centre-back in the country by Mourinho.
A snip at £15m, he has played over 100 games since signing permanently for Roma in 2020 and has been in outstanding form this season as his club challenge for a return to the Champions League. That top-four tilt has been largely based on their defensive record, with Smalling credited with setting the tone for another season of progress in the Eternal City.
Mourinho’s side currently sit third in Serie A but are battling with four other clubs for a top-four place.
Roma’s influential director of football Tiago Pinto was the driving force behind the Smalling contract renewal, having identified a new deal as essential to prevent him leaving on a free transfer. Despite plenty of rival interest, Pinto has managed to convince Smalling to commit.
Back in October Pinto hailed Smalling as the “best English defender” and said Gareth Southgate should consider him for his World Cup squad. He won the last of his 31 caps in 2017 but his form has often been in stark contrast to the man who replaced him, £80m signing Harry Maguire.
The Smalling renewal is another quietly efficient piece of business from the Portuguese executive, who may become a familiar name to English football fans soon.
i understands that Pinto is on the radar of a number of Premier League clubs who are looking at director of football options in the summer.
Mourinho’s side are in the last eight in Europa League as they aim to build on last year’s Europa Conference League win. They travel to Feyenoord, who they defeated in the final of the third-tier competition, for the first leg on Thursday.