Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is on a plane to Italy to complete a shock loan move to AS Roma.
Reports broke out on Thursday claiming that Smalling agreed on a surprise transfer to Roma. Apparently, the United player will join the Serie A giants on a season-long loan deal worth €3m.
This development comes amid a lack of regular opportunities for Smalling at Old Trafford. Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelöf and Phil Jones are all ahead seemingly of him in the pecking order.
Solskjaer’s struggles, meanwhile, to offload players this summer means that he’s now got seven centre-backs. Therefore, Smalling has jumped on a plane to Rome to undergo a medical.
Although Red Devils supporters can take comfort in the fact that Roma don’t have a buy option, which means Smalling will return at the end of the season.
“It’s just come up the last couple of days, this opportunity for Chris,” said Solskjaer as quoted by MEN.
“Of course we sat down yesterday and discussed it. At the moment we’ve got six fit centre-backs. I couldn’t promise Chris regular football. He’s on the plane over now and I think he’ll enjoy the experience over there.”
Unlike Smalling, though, Solskjaer confirmed that the injury-prone Marcos Rojo will remain a United player for this season.
Since suffering a cruciate ligament injury in a Europa League clash with Anderlecht in April 2017, Rojo has made just 18 appearances for United across the past two seasons.
It had caused doubts over his future amid reported interest from Everton and Roma earlier this summer.
But the same cannot be said for fellow defender Matteo Darmian, with Serie A side Parma allegedly interested.
“I can see maybe Matteo [leaving],” said United boss Solskjaer.
“There has been some interest in him, Marcos is staying definitely. We have a squad now which is less in numbers but still big enough and strong enough.”
United will face Southampton on Saturday for their next Premier League match, with kick-off set for 13:30 (CET) at St Mary’s.