Man Utd ‘to allow Chris Smalling to leave’ if they seal Kalidou Koulibaly transfer

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Manchester United will reportedly allow Chris Smalling to join Roma permanently if they can secure the signing of Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli.

Koulibaly has been a long-time target for United, and is on the radar of other top clubs after winning last season’s Serie A best defender award.

Napoli’s £90million valuation has so far kept suitors at bay, but reports from Italy have suggested the 28-year-old could be tempted by a summer transfer.

And if United can seal a deal for the Senegal centre-half, boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will allow Smalling to turn his Roma loan into a permanent switch, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Smalling left United for Roma last summer as he was deemed surplus to requirements following Harry Maguire’s £80m move to Old Trafford – a world record fee for a defender.

Kalidou Koulibaly has long been linked with an Old Trafford switch

Maguire has been named United captain and has established himself as the Red Devil’s first-choice centre-half, with Victor Lindelof his usual partner.

However, 30-year-old Smalling has been rejuvenated at Roma, having established himself as a fans’ favourite following a season of steady displays at the back.

Smalling has helped Roma to the last 16 of the Europa League and fifth place in Serie A, with the season currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

United’s other centre-half options are Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe, with Marcos Rojo also out on loan.

Chris Smalling, pictured tackling Cristiano Ronaldo, has become a fans’ favourite while on loan at Roma

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Solskjaer needs to sign a top-class centre-half in order to try and bridge the gap to Liverpool and Manchester City, and Koulibaly has long been identified as a defender who could fit the bill.

Naples-based media outlet Il Mattino has reported that Kouliably told club president Aurelio De Laurentiis during a phone call that he is willing to leave at the end of the season.

However, Koulibaly also reportedly confirmed he would be happy to stay at Napoli if a suitable offer was not received from his or the club’s perspective.

Should United bid for Koulibaly this season, it is likely they will face competition from French giants Paris Saint-Germain, among other clubs.



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