Manchester United are likely to allow Chris Smalling to leave this summer as the defender has fallen to the bottom of the club’s pecking order.
According to a report by ESPN, Jose Mourinho will be open to the prospect of Chris Smalling leaving Old Trafford as the defender has failed to impress for large chunks of this season.
The England international will face one major test as he continues to battle teammate Phil Jones for a spot in the starting line-up against Ajax in the Europa League final in Stockholm on Wednesday. Eric Bailly will have to miss out due to a suspension.
However, Smalling is trying to recover from a toe injury before that and Mourinho reportedly considers him to be behind Jones as far as the pecking order is concerned, along with Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo whenever they’re available.
Smalling has also had to be at the receiving end of a lot of public backlash from Mourinho on several occasions due to lack of focus. The Portuguese manager especially criticized him for not pushing himself to recover from his injuries faster to help out the team.
Manchester United have been plagued with injuries this season, and even their star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic succumbed to a tragic injury. The defenders also have been in and out of various injuries and Smalling’s absence didn’t help either. The 27-year-old still managed to record 35 appearances in all competitions this season.
However, with reports suggesting that Mourinho is targeting a summer swoop for Michael Keane from Burnley, Smalling’s exit can create a spot for Keane. Also, Arsenal have been targeting Smalling and the defender might have a better future there.
Arsene Wenger’s last couple of games this season showed how he is experimenting with a three-man back line and Smalling will do well in that formation. With Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny getting injured frequently, the manager would want to ensure there is ample backup along with Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding. Arsenal may well face a problem in attracting talented players now that they do not have Champions League to offer, Smalling may be their best shot to shore up the defence.