Roma are pulling out of the race to sign Manchester United’s Chris Smalling, leaving Arsenal in pole position to sign the 30-year-old, according to reports.
Corriere dello Sport claims that Roma now say a deal for Smalling is ‘unthinkable’ after United allegedly increased their asking price from £20 million to €25 million during negotiations.
Smalling has been a star performer for Roma this season and the club has been desperate to sign the England defender but given his age, they feel there is no way they can justify such a high fee. United reportedly rejected a £13.8 million bid from the Italians out of hand in January.
The report says that the Giallorossi have reluctantly now turned their attentions to Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren, whose price will be ‘significantly lower’ than Smalling’s.
According to The Daily Star, this means that Arsenal are now favourites to sign Smalling, who would welcome a move back to the Premier League.
The Gunners have struggled defensively this season as Laurent Koscielny’s replacement with David Luiz has not gone as well as they had hoped. In addition, according to The Star, ‘Gunners boss Mikel Arteta will want rid of Shkodran Mustafi this summer.’
The Red Devils would no doubt prefer not to sell Smalling to a rival Premier League side but will want to get the best price for their man. Smalling can also tick a box in terms of home grown players in Arsenal’s squad and that could increase his value to the Gunners, or any other English team, in relation to his value to Roma.
However, Arsenal themselves are also considering Lovren as a second option, according to the outlet.