Newcastle United have reportedly set their sights on Roma defender Chris Smalling if they are unable to secure deals for their top defensive targets this January.

According to the Italian outlet, Siamo La Roma, Newcastle United are reportedly interested in signing former Manchester United defender Chris Smalling from AS Roma. The Magpies are keen to capture the England international as they become desperate in their search for defensive reinforcements.

Having already sealed the signings of Kieran Trippier and Chris Wood, the North East club can now turn their attention to finding reinforcements at the heart of their backline over the next few days. The relegation-threatened Magpies have shipped 42 goals in 19 Premier League games. Only basement boys Norwich have conceded more this season, while the Toon have only kept one clean sheet so far.

The Toon have made a couple of bids for Lille’s star defender Sven Botman, but the Dutchman looks untouchable in France. While talks with AS Monaco’s Benoit Badiashile and Sevilla’s Diego Carlos are ongoing behind the scenes, they are also exploring other options. And it looks as though the Magpies have set their sights on Roma’s Chris Smalling, who has emerged as the latest name on their long list of targets for the centre-half position.

After a year-long loan stint in Rome, Smalling completed a permanent switch from Manchester United back in October 2020 for a reported £13.5 million fee after becoming surplus to the requirements at Old Trafford.

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Since then, Smalling’s tenure has been plagued with injuries, and the arrival of Jose Mourinho has cast doubts over his future. The 32-year-old has struggled for playing time at the start of this season, though he has since started in the club’s last eight league games.

Standing at 6ft 4in, Smalling has a tremendous ability in the air and comes with bags of experience. The Englishman can use his game-reading ability and expertise to help ease the pressure on Newcastle’s leaky and error-prone backline. He is also decent on the ball and can bring composure at the heart of the backline, though he tends to struggle against speedy attackers.

While there is no denying, Smalling could well improve Magpies’ backline; this one should be taken with a pinch of salt as the 32-year-old does not boast a good injury record in recent seasons and has spent most of his time in the treatment room than on the pitch.

Regarding Smalling’s stance, the report claims that the Roma defender himself is not fully sold on a move to North-East outfit, who are languishing 19th in the Premier League at the moment and could get relegated to the Championship at the end of the season.

With relegation still a very real prospect, Newcastle needs to get the recruitment right in January. Signing the wrong profile of a player could be catastrophic to their Premier League survival bid. The 32-year-old has 18 months remaining on his current deal at Stadio Olimpico and would command some sort of transfer fee. It remains to be seen whether Newcastle push to land Smalling or move to other high-profile targets.

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