Ex-Roma chief stunned by how cheaply he signed Smalling from Man Utd

‘I thought it was a hoax’: Former Roma sporting director admits he was stunned by how cheaply he signed Chris Smalling from Manchester United, casting further doubts over the Red Devils’ transfer strategy

  • Gianluca Petrachi helped Roma sign Chris Smalling on loan in summer of 2019
  • Defender’s success in Italy has since led to a permanent move from Old Trafford
  • But Petrachi admits he could not believe the low price he could sign Smalling for
  • Manchester United have struggled buying their targeted players in recent times 

Roma’s former sporting director has highlighted Manchester United’s questionable approach in the transfer market after revealing how they were left bewildered by how easy it was to land Chris Smalling.

Gianluca Petrachi, who has since left his role having arrived last summer in the Italian capital, was behind the move to sign the former England defender from Old Trafford in a loan move worth £3million in 2019.

Despite being surplus to requirements under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he proved a key component to the Italian side’s defence that finished fifth in Serie A last term.   

Chris Smalling has starred for Roma since joining them initially on loan in the summer of 2019

The defender made a  permanent move to the Italian side in the most recent transfer window

Following 37 appearances last season, Roma wasted little time in making the move a permanent transfer this summer in a deal worth around £13million.

Petrachi has claimed though he was stunned that Manchester United allowed the 30-year-old to leave for such a cheap price having initially targeted Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren.

‘We were trying to sign Dejan Lovren,’ he told Corriere dello Sport. ‘But I did not want to spend so much on a player with a groin problem.  

Former Roma sporting director Gianluca Petrachi has admitted he was stunned how easy he found it to sign Chris Smalling from Manchester United in 2019

‘An Italian agent then called me and said: “you can have Smalling on loan.” I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a hoax.

‘Smalling is one of those players great at marking that are going extinct.’

United’s troubles in the transfer market were a focus in the summer, with the club unable to offload out of favour members of the squad including Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been left frustrated by his side’s approach in the transfer market

In addition they have also struggled recruiting players, having failed in their long term pursuit to land Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund following a disagreement with the German side over a transfer fee.

Interest in Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele also failed to lead to much in their desire to sign a wide forward.

Although they eventually managed to land the highly talented Donny van de Beek from Ajax, Solskjaer has often struggled to find a place in the first-team for the Holland international this season.

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