• Chris Smalling is set to return to Roma on a permanent move
  • His new deal will run until June 30, 2023
  • The Manchester United center-back had no place to return to at Old Trafford after spending his last season on loan

Chris Smalling got his wish after his permanent move to AS Roma became official. Manchester United and Roma finally agreed after weeks of negotiations for the 30-year-old center-back.

Goal reported that the three-year deal for Smalling is said to be worth $17 million, plus roughly $6 million in add-ons. His new deal will run until June 30, 2023.

It was a positive development for the English center-back who recently returned to Old Trafford after a season-long loan. But with no place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s mix, a permanent move to Stadio Olimpico, where he had a great performance last season, loomed as the only plausible alternative for Smalling, Sky Sports reported.

Smalling heaved a big sigh of relief, admitting via Roma’s official website that his head and heart were always in Roma.

“Nothing in life worth having comes easy,” Smalling said. “My head and my heart has always been in Rome. I am delighted to now be yours. Daje Roma!”

Before the final agreement, La Lupa had fallen short in its pursuit of Smalling. Aside from Roma, other clubs who expressed interest in the 30-year-old include Inter Milan and Newcastle.

Smalling arrived at Old Trafford in 2010 from Fulham and scored 18 goals in 323 appearances with United. He was also part of the Premier League title squad that won in 2010-11 and 2012-13. Smalling has an FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Europa League to show for his Manchester United stint as well.

“Everyone at Manchester United would like to thank Chris for his years of service and dedication, and wish him all the best for his future,” read a statement from the Manchester United official website.

Roma’s pursuit of Smalling is understandable. Playing on loan last season, the center-back appeared in 30 matches and scored three goals. That effort was enough to help the club finish fifth in Serie A.

With the deal, Smalling is expected to reclaim his starting spot under Paulo Fonseca. While Giallorossi did sign Marash Kumbulla from Hellas Verona to fill in that position, Smalling adds more depth in defense, which the club needs in preparation for Serie A and the Europa League, The Atheltic reported.

England defender Chris Smalling has become a fan favourite in his first season at Roma
England defender Chris Smalling has become a fan favourite in his first season at Roma AFP / Filippo MONTEFORTE