Chris Smalling is enjoying his loan move from Manchester United to Roma more than he ever expected.
Smalling was loaned out from Manchester United to Roma for the season, right at the end of the 2019 summer transfer window.
Smalling opted to seek a move away from Old Trafford after the arrival of Harry Maguire, and a conversation with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Solkjaer told Smalling he would get games, but would not be a forst or second choice centre-back.
In an interview with the clubs official website, asroma.com, he shared his experience so far and how things are going.
When asked if the experience had reached his expectations, Smalling answered unequivocally.
“Yeah, everything and more I think.”
Smalling discussed the settling down process and how things are progressing.
“Obviously I missed the first couple of games.”
“But being able to stay fit now and hopefully – touch wood – for the rest of the season means I’ve been able to have an influence on the pitch.”
“That definitely helps the transition, in terms of getting to know my teammates and how we want to work, and just getting friendly with them as well.”
“Now my family is out here and we are moving into a house as well, so it’s nice to have all that sorted too.”
“All the pieces off the pitch are coming together too, so fingers crossed it just keeps getting better and better.”
He says some things are similar so it helps to.
“In terms of the facilities and the schedules, it is not too dissimilar [to England].”
“Like at United, here we are playing every few days so training in the week is more tactical and about recovery, rather than long training sessions.”
But there are also differences, he is adapting and learning and enjoying the challenge.
“In terms of the games, especially watching more Serie A since I’ve been here and studying the opposition.”
“So it’s definitely new challenges, which I’m enjoying – because I quite like a tussle and a sprint against the striker. It definitely suits my game.”
He has established a great relationship with the manager and coaching staff and believes that has been a decisive factor.
“I’ve been very lucky in terms of the coaching staff as well, they all speak good English.”
“But obviously I want to learn Italian, I’m starting on that journey too.”
Manager Paolo Fonseca made a big impression on him over the phone and that convinced him the move to Rome was the right one for him.
“I find it’s been brilliant [with Fonseca].”
“In terms of our first conversation, I spoke to him on the phone from Manchester and he was just explaining the type of defender he wants.”
“He saw my attributes and how he wanted me to play within his team.”
“That gave me a real sense of things, and as soon as I was off the phone it was a case of, ‘Let’s make this happen’.”
“Since then it has been great to work with him.”
Smalling has made three appearances for his new club since returning from injury.
He appears to be a first-choice center-back for Fonseca provided he can stay fit.
There is no option to buy in the loan deal between the two clubs.
But given his already impressive impact, that may become a factor come June 30th when his deal expires.
"Now I have a boy of my own, you want him to be proud of his dad – not just as a footballer, but those other things he’s done and choices he made.”
We spoke to @ChrisSmalling about his career: from early setbacks, to being picked by Sir Alex, to his new adventure in Rome…
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) October 11, 2019