Roma confirm interest in signing United defender permanently

AS Roma
Roma loan defender Chris Smalling is in demand.

Roma boss Paulo Fonseca has confirmed that he would like to sign on-loan Manchester United defender Chris Smalling on a permanent basis this summer.

England international Smalling joined Roma on a season-long loan deal from United last summer after being deemed surplus to requirements by Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The 30-year-old has impressed during his time in the Italian capital, featuring 26 times across all competitions and scoring in Roma’s Serie A victories over Brescia and Udinese.

Smalling, who also played the full 90 minutes of Sunday’s 4-0 victory over Lecce, has become a fans’ favourite at the Stadio Olimpico and he confirmed last week that he would be open to turning his move into a permanent transfer.

That feeling appears to be mutual, with Fonseca now revealing that he is keen to tie the former Fulham star down to a permanent deal, although the final decision will ultimately rest with United, who could opt to keep Smalling or open up a bidding war between other interested clubs.

“Chris is a great, great man, a great, great professional,” Fonseca told Sky Sports. “The adaptation (to Italian football) was very easy for him. He’s a boy that everyone loves in the club because he is a great professional.

“I would like Chris to stay. We are speaking. I don’t know if it is possible because of the situation with Manchester United, but I would like so much for Chris to stay here with us because he is very important.”

Smalling is not the only player on loan from the Premier League that Roma are keen to keep hold of, as the club would also like to sign attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan on a permanent basis from Arsenal.

Mkhitaryan’s temporary spell at Roma has been blighted by injuries, but he scored and provided an assist against Lecce and appears to have done enough to convince Fonseca of his qualities.

“Mkhi during this season got some injuries but he is returning now and he is proving his quality,” Fonseca added. “Let’s see. He is a player with great decisions on the pitch and I would also like to keep Mkhi in our team.”