Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has expressed his gratitude to Italian side AS Roma, while claiming he feels “gutted” returning to Trafford before Roma’s Europa League campaign.
The England international joined Roma on a season-long loan deal last summer, having fallen down the pecking order due to the arrival of Harry Maguire at Old Trafford.
While on loan in Italy, Smalling has been a massive improvement for Paulo Fonseca’s backline, racking up 37 appearances in all competitions for the club.
During his loan spell, the 30-year-old also found the back of the net on three occasions as Roma finished fifth in the Serie A. He also helped the club to progress to the latter stages of the Europa League with his fine displays.
The Roma manager was keen on keeping Smalling beyond the expiration of his contract, as he claimed publicly back in April that,“He’s a great professional and person, it’s a pleasure to have him here with us.”
However, with his contract ending at the end of the league season, Roma and United were unable to reach an agreement to allow Smalling play for Roma for the remainder of the Europa League games.
Roma play Sevilla in a single leg round of 16 tie in Germany on Thursday, and will have to make do without the centre-back as he makes his way back to Manchester.
I’m gutted that I can’t finish what we started this season. To experience the love shown to me in such a short time was extra special and it will not be forgotten. I want to thank and wish all the players and staff the best of luck against Sevilla. DAJE ROMA! 💛❤️ 🐺 pic.twitter.com/9vHfpWUNsz
— Chris Smalling (@ChrisSmalling) August 4, 2020
Smalling took to social media to confirm the news to his fans in a post which reads: “I’m gutted that I can’t finish what we started this season. To experience the love shown to me in such a short time was extra special and it will not be forgotten. I want to thank and wish all the players and staff the best of luck against Sevilla. DAJE ROMA!”
Roma are reportedly still in discussions with the Red Devils for the permanent signing of the defender despite not being able to play in the remainder of their games in Europe this season.