Arsenal lead Everton and Leicester in race for Chris Smalling transfer from Man Utd

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Arsenal are hoping to beat their Premier League rivals to the signing of Manchester United defender Chris Smalling after his impressive form for Roma in Italy. The 30-year-old has impressed head coach Paulo Fonseca enough to secure a regular starting berth, and has added two goals in his nine league outings.

Smalling was outlined as surplus to requirements at United after Harry Maguire joined from Leicester in the summer for a world-record fee for a defender, and he has formed a decent partnership with Victor Lindelof.

Former Fulham centre-back Smalling has even caught the eye of Gareth Southgate having not played for England since 2017, with Steve Holland watching him in action as Roma faced Inter Milan on Friday.

Smalling has now been linked by the Sunday Mirror with a permanent move to another Premier League club come the end of his loan spell away, with the Gunners said to be keeping tabs on him and leading the chase.

Despite Arsenal having sacked Unai Emery and struggling since Freddie Ljungberg took over in temporary charge, the board seem to be continuing in their pursuit of possible transfer targets – which will come as a blow to fellow suitors Everton and Leicester.

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“Would it have been the 40-50 games that I am used to if fit? It might have been the 20-30. Still a good number of games but I want to play.”

Solskjaer spoke out in support of his player earlier in the week after Italian publication Corriere dello Sport dubbed the meeting between Roma and Inter ‘Black Friday’ accompanied by photographs of Smalling and his former team-mate Romelu Lukaku.

The Norwegian said: “First of all, when you see that paper you say wow really is that possible?

“It’s the worst front page I’ve ever seen and we’ve been in touch with Chris just so he knows we’ll back him and Romelu as well.

“I don’t work in your line of business but wow, it’s incredible and at least we don’t see that here, that has to be stamped out.”

He added: “Chris has been fantastic – we know sometimes if you change the environment it can go both ways.

“But Chris is the type to relish these challenges he’s cultured, enjoys life down there, it’s a new experience for him.

“He’s a boy who couldn’t be here without being a regular and we’re so happy for him because we can see the top player he is.”

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