Smalling has no regrets at leaving Man Utd ‘comfort zone’ & breaking the mould for English players at Roma

Chris Smalling has no regrets at having left his “comfort zone” at Manchester United, with the 30-year-old happy to have bucked the trend for English talent and taken in a spell at Roma.

A season-long loan switch for the experienced defender was sanctioned during the summer of 2019.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had been keen on keeping a seasoned performer within his squad at Old Trafford, but Smalling was slipping down the pecking order.

A record-breaking deal for Harry Maguire saw him nudged out of favour, with Victor Lindelof nailing down the other centre-half berth for United.

Smalling could have competed for minutes at a club he has been with since 2010 – taking in 323 appearances – but wanted to be a regular elsewhere.

The brave call was made to head for Italy, with that decision vindicated during what has been a productive campaign in Serie A.

More British talent is now starting to spread its wings, having previously opted to stay put, and Smalling is proud to form part of that change in mindset.

He told The Times: “Some English players have gone abroad but not many. 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.”

Chris Smalling Roma 2019-20

Smalling has taken in 28 outings for Roma across all competitions, with the Italian giants eager to put a permanent deal in place during the next window.

No discussions have been held there as yet, with Serie A clubs waiting on a return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.

They are returning to training, but Smalling can appreciate that some may be wary of stepping back into the fold against a backdrop of serious health concerns.

The England international 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.

“That’s been very useful to know their discussions with the league and the doctors and they are relaying that straight back to us.

“That’s why I feel like a lot of players here are comfortable about coming back, knowing the different measures.

“It’s all been listed, but if some players at some clubs who don’t have that all in place yet then I can understand them being a bit fearful until that’s put in place. I’d want the same as well.”