Chris Smalling has no regrets over leaving Man Utd "comfort zone"

Chris Smalling claims he has no regrets after taking up the challenge of leaving Manchester United to join a club overseas.

The 30-year-old defender was knocked down the pecking order at Old Trafford by the £80million signing of Harry Maguire last summer.

Seen as surplus to requirements with United, Smalling was not content with a place on the bench and sought a loan move.

Since a deal was struck last August, he has revived his career with dominant performances at the heart of Roma's defence.

The former Fulham man has made 21 Serie A appearances, scoring twice and assisting once to help guide the Italian giants to fifth in the table.

And despite seldom few English players plying their trade abroad, Smalling maintains he has no regrets about his move.

“Some English players have gone abroad but not many," he told The Times. "It was a challenge that I wanted to take. I’m someone who definitely lives by not having any regrets.

“I like new things maybe out of my comfort zone and show people that anything is possible.”

The Serie A remains suspended amid the coronavirus outbreak, though teams are returning to training across Italy.

No resumption date has been set but Smalling – who is linked with a permanent move to Stadio Olimpico – feels he is being well-informed by Roma about developments.

He added: “I can understand everyone’s position if they’ve not got that full clarity.

“Everybody wants to be as informed as possible. Fortunately, here at Roma, I feel like they have that clarity. They’ve kept us in the loop.

“We had regular meetings with the CEO [Guido Fienga], talking about different measures, and keeping us up to date.

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What Man Utd hero Ryan Giggs has told Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about Jadon Sancho alternative

Manchester United consider Rabbi Matondo as a back-up transfer target for Jadon Sancho after club legend Ryan Giggs gave the thumbs up. According to Manchester Evening News, United have been scouting Matondo for a long time as they see him as a more cost-efficient option if they fail to meet Sancho’s asking price.

Borussia Dortmund rate their star winger at a staggering £120million and the Red Devils may also have to outbid Premier League rivals Chelsea in the summer transfer window.

The Manchester giants understand it won’t be easy to land the England international and that is why they are also keeping tabs on Schalke winger Matondo.

Wales boss Giggs knows the 19-year-old very well as he has given him three caps at the national team and considers him to be a very promising young talent.

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The United legend appears to rate him as highly as Daniel James, for whom he gave glowing scouting reports to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before he moved to Old Trafford in 2019.

Giggs was surprised when Matondo left Manchester City’s academy for Schalke in 2019 but believes in his potential and isn’t ruling out the possibility of him reaching the same heights as Sancho.

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The legendary winger admires his “electrifying pace” that can hurt many teams he is put out against on the pitch.

Giggs said last year: “I was slightly surprised when he went, but he is a talent. If he’s half as successful as Sancho has been so far I’ll be happy.

“He was really good with us in Albania [Wales’s last game in November]. I thought he did really well when he came on.

“Just like Dan James he has electrifying pace. And that always keeps you interested.

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“Obviously after that you have to develop. If a full-back works you out you have to have that Plan B. But both are talented players who could hurt teams.”

Matondo moved to City in 2016 from Cardiff but never managed to play in the first team and so he decided to try out his luck in the Bundesliga, just like Sancho did after he left the Etihad.

The Wales international has since made 21 first-team appearances for Schalke and has even managed to score a goal.

United seem to be prioritising young British talent as shown by the mega-money acquisitions of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire from Crystal Palace and Leicester respectively last summer.

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Harry Maguire drops Paul Pogba transfer hint because of Bruno Fernandes form

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire is confident Paul Pogba will be motivated to play alongside Bruno Fernandes at Old Trafford after seeing the club improve since his arrival. Pogba has been limited to just a handful of appearances this season due to ankle problems before undergoing surgery at the start of the year.

That ruled him out for several months but United had enjoyed an upturn in form before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic after signing Fernandes in January.

The Portuguese midfielder hit the ground running after moving to United, helping push the club closer to a Champions League spot and remain unbeaten in all of his nine appearances.

His form has led to further questions on whether United may consider selling Pogba in the summer with constant reports regarding his future.

Maguire though suggests the France international will relish the opportunity to play alongside Fernandes at United and create a formidable partnership.

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“He’s [Fernandes] been brilliant since he’s come in,” he told Sky Sports.

“He’s been brilliant off the field, around the training ground, he’s a leader, he wants to win.

“You can tell he’s been brought up with that attitude and he’s just given a little bit more life.

“He’s given us that bit more creativity in the middle like United fans have said we’ve missed over the years.

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“It’s a start. There’s lots of aspects of his game I’m sure he’ll want to improve and I’m sure he will improve and get better for this club.

“We’ve got Paul to come back as well, who will probably make himself lift his game even more so we’ve got a good competition for places in that centre midfield.

“They know that every game they’re going to have to be at their best to keep their spot and I’m sure we’ll see the benefits.”

United currently sit fifth in the table and have only finished higher than third once in the last six seasons.

But Maguire is confident the club are heading in the right direction under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to return to the top of the Premier League.

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“I think from the start of the season we look a lot more like a team,” he added.

“We can probably see where he want to go and where we want to head.

“I knew when I first came to Manchester United that Ole said to me loads and loads that it’s a building process and that we’ll get to where we want to be.

“I can see where we’re heading and the style he wants to implement on our team.

“There’s still plenty of aspects where we need to improve to get to the top where we want to be.

“We don’t want to be challenging for this Champions League spot, we want to be challenging for titles.

“There’s still a lot of improvements to get there but we feel like we’re on the right track and I’m sure eventually we will get there.”

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