Roma boss Paulo Fonseca makes transfer admission over Man Utd ace Chris Smalling

Roma boss Paulo Fonseca has confirmed he wants to sign Chris Smalling from Manchester United this summer – and described the defender as "unbeatable" in one-vs-ones.

Centre-back Smalling joined Roma on a season-long loan last summer, having dropped down the pecking order at United following Harry Maguire's switch to Old Trafford.

The move has revitalised Smalling's career, with the 30-year-old having established himself as a fans' favourite at the Stadio Olimpico.

He played in 21 of Roma's 26 Serie A games – scoring twice – before the Italian league was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, also featuring five times in the Europa League.

Smalling has previously said he would like to stay at Roma beyond the end of his current loan agreement.

And the club's Portuguese coach Fonseca, a centre-half himself in his playing days, has confirmed he would like to make Smalling's switch permanent in a move that would likely net United around £25million.

"He surprised me. He's a defender that had never left England and he arrived in a league very demanding of tactics, where details make the difference," Fonseca told Portuguese publication A Bola.

"Chris adapted very quickly. He's an extraordinary guy, very intelligent. He has characteristics that I really appreciate in the centre.

"He's fast, nearly unbeatable in one-on-ones. He has a great ability to read the play and anticipate. He was very important for this club.

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