Chris Smalling is the odd man out in Man United's defense.

By 90Min
August 30, 2019

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed that center back Chris Smalling has travelled to Italy to complete a loan move to Roma. Matteo Darmian is also likely to leave by the European deadline on Monday, but Marcos Rojo is set to stay.

Smalling has been pushed out of contention this season by the summer signing of Harry Maguire, with the England international not even making it onto the bench for any of United’s opening three games of the new Premier League campaign.

The temporary switch to Italy came about earlier this week and Solskjaer’s reasoning was straightforward when quizzed about it at a press conference on Friday morning.

“This opportunity for Chris has just come up in the last couple of days,” the Norwegian said.

“We’ve got six fit center backs. I couldn’t promise Chris regular football. He’s on the plane over now and I think he’ll enjoy the experience,” Solskjaer added.

Darmian, who has been a forgotten figure at the club after just 14 Premier League appearances in the last two seasons, is set to also head to Italy, after Solskjaer declared, “Maybe, Matteo”.

As for Rojo, whose versatility could yet be a blessing after Luke Shaw suffered an injury last weekend, Solskjaer stated, “Marcos is staying, definitely.”

Rojo had been of interest to Everton on the final day of the Premier League transfer window earlier this month, but no deal could be agreed for the Argentine. Smalling had also been linked with a possible move to Everton in the final days of the window as well.

Phil Jones will stay at Old Trafford as a back-up, even though he too has not yet been selected in a matchday squad so far this season. Axel Tuanzebe has been Solskjaer’s preferred center back option on the bench in the opening three games. Eric Bailly, meanwhile, remains injured.

United also bid farewell, temporarily at least, to Alexis Sanchez on Thursday evening when the Chilean forward completed a loan move to Inter, reuniting with former teammate Romelu Lukaku, whose £73m permanent transfer was sealed earlier this month.

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