Arsene Wenger has been a long-time admirer of Chris Smalling and now it seems he’s after him again.
Leaving aside the fact that Jose Mourinho won’t sell to Arsene Wenger, what would Arsenal be getting if they did manage to sign the defender?
We asked someone who knows Manchester United quite well…
1. Isn’t he rubbish?
Chris Smalling had a rather poor season at Manchester United and Arsene Wenger is looking to get a player who isn’t on the best terms with Mourinho.
Smalling, however, has been the best defender at Manchester United for the last couple of seasons, but when Jose Mourinho arrived his form dropped. Add to that a few injuries and he found himself low down Mourinho’s preference list.
Smalling is a senior member of the squad and high in the captains order but it seems that he doesn’t suit Mourinho who is looking to sell him and Phil Jones this summer. The 27-year-old made 36 appearances for the Red Devils across all competitions last season, scoring two and making two assists.
The England international has a contract with United until 2019 and will be looking to resolve his squad status before the transfer window ends. He of course, has one eye on the World Cup in Russia 2018 and will want to be assured of playing time.
Next – Smalling’s strengths
Smalling is a very experienced central defender and his strength and composure could be considered his biggest strengths. For a player 6″36′ tall he has plenty of pace and is very good in anticipating his opponent’s next move. With height and physical strength, he is a tower in defence and a really tough opponent to go past.
On average, he makes 0.8 tackles and 0.8 interceptions per-game, which can be interpreted as low numbers for a defender, but he usually dispossesses his opponents using strength rather than going for the tackle.
He is also very good in building up attacks from defence and has a successful passing rate of 88%, something Arsene Wenger no doubt appreciates.
Smalling is a natural central defender but can also be used as a right-back which is another bonus for Wenger when he has the need to rotate his squad or injuries striker as they inevitably do.
Next – Smalling’s weaknesses
The 27-year-old is still some way from the likes of Thiago Silva or John Terry in his prime, and there are some areas of his approach that need development. Sometimes he gets insecure and misjudges opponents’ movements but nothing that can’t be fixed.
Other than a few needed tweaks, Smalling is a complete defender and doesn’t have any significant weaknesses.
Next – If he goes to Arsenal…
4. If he goes to Arsenal…
Arsenal would get one of the best defenders in the league without a question. One relatively poor season at Manchester United doesn’t change the fact that he’s been their top performer in defence over the last three or four years in front of David de Gea, and has contributed massively to United’s success.
He is somewhat injury prone, and has spent some time on the sidelines and his fitness will need to be addressed properly and Arsenal may not be the best place for that to happen given their own injury problems.
Laurent Koscielny and Skhordan Mustafi, paired with Chris Smalling could represent the toughest defensive line in the Premier league, and Arsene Wenger should do whatever he can to sign the player if he is allowed to leave for the Emirates.
To be honest, I’m not sure why on earth Mourinho would sell Smalling to anyone. The player is hitting his prime, has huge experience in Premier League, European competitions. He’s an international and will only get better. Smalling is a leader from the back and Manchester United will surely miss his presence in the squad, even more so if he joins their rivals.