When Chris Smalling joined Manchester United from Fulham in 2010 for an undisclosed fee, he was highly rated, despite the fact he had played just the one full campaign in the top-flight with the Cottagers.
He was a promising young defender with so much potential. Smalling enjoyed a couple of decent seasons with United and broke into the England team.
However, it seems he has now fallen out-of-favour with United boss Jose Mourinho.
The Portuguese boss spent big on Eric Bailly last summer and this summer repeated the trick with the signing of Swedish international Victor Lindelof.
The centre-back is now slipping down the pecking order at United and looks set to leave Old Trafford this summer.
Not quite fulfilled his potential
Chris Smalling has not quite fulfilled his supposed potential. The 27-year-old was expected to be a key centre-back for United and England. However, he has only shown flashes of his ability in a United shirt in recent seasons, mainly during the Louis van Gaal years when the Dutchman preferred a defensive style of football.
Smalling has talent as a centre-back. He has become unreliable and undependable of late. He seems quick enough and good in the air, but he is not as commanding as a top-class centre-back should be.
The former Fulham star seems to be bullied at times by the more physical strikers and that is one of the main reasons behind the doubts about him being a top defender. He is a big guy but maybe does not put his physique to good enough use.
Maybe he has been a victim of the classic because he is English he is overhyped. He is a decent defender, but maybe he needs to move on to develop his game.
Smalling is in-demand this summer
Unsurprisingly for a player of his experience and age, Chris Smalling is reportedly a player in-demand. Everton have emerged as the favourite to sign the centre-back at odds of 7/2.
The Toffees are splashing the cash all over the place. A new centre-back is expected to be on Ronald Koeman’s wishlist this summer, although former United reserve Michael Keane of Burnley is reported to be the Merseysiders main defensive target.
Tottenham were reportedly tracking Smalling, with a supposed £15million bid for the centre-back in the pipeline. The possibility of a part-exchange deal involving Tottenham’s Eric Dier has also been talked about.
It is highly doubtful that Smalling would get into the current Spurs starting line-up. Belgian duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are one of the best centre-back partnerships in the Premier League.
A move to north London would more than likely mean that Smalling would find himself back up to the Belgian pair. So the situation would unlikely be any different from his current one at United.
The likes of West Ham and West Brom are also reportedly interested in signing Smalling this summer. There is plenty of interest in the England international. If Mourinho does not want him, many other Premier League bosses would have him in their teams.
Still a decent defender
Chris Smalling is a decent defender. However, he is not up to the standard that United need to attempt to challenge for the Premier League title again. The England international will never be a world-class defender.
He is a solid and dependable-ish centre-back if managed the right way. If he headed for West Ham or West Brom, he would probably be a decent signing. If he signed for Tottenham, he would only be a backup player. He is not a better centre-back than Alderweireld or Vertonghen.
Everton seems like his only likely destination. The Toffees are ambitious and prepared to spend money. However, they may look at Keane and believe he is a better future prospect at centre-back.
Chris Smalling’s future is slightly in limbo at the moment. The defender may well be warming the bench at Old Trafford next season, so it seems if he wants first team football next season he will have to move on this summer.
Where will Chris Smalling be plying his trade next season?
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