Chris Smalling is starting to settle to his new life in Italy, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss Manchester United every now and again.
The defender left the Red Devils at the end of August to join Roma on a season-long loan, having been dropped from United’s first-team by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following the summer arrival of Harry Maguire to Old Trafford.
His last few seasons with United were characterised by consistently below par performances and doubts over his long-term suitability to the Red Devils, and a move abroad offered Smalling the perfect opportunity to get his career back on track.
And it is fair to say he has done just that, with the 29-year-old quickly establishing himself as one of Roma’s key players.
He’s started eight successive Serie A matches – only two of which have ended in defeat – and also featured in two of Roma’s Europa League fixtures, though the Italian outfit have not fared as well on the continental stage.
According to reports Roma want to make Smalling’s loan move permanent at the end of the season, and while he is not willing to open up on such a possibility as of yet, there is no denying the centre-back is enjoying this new stage of his career.
He still misses Manchester United every now and again, however, Smalling revealed to talkSPORT in an exclusive chat with Jim White.
“I do [miss Man United],” Smalling began, “because I was there for so many years and I was used to be being part of the furniture there.
“But I am enjoying my new chapter, and hopefully I can keep affecting performances on the pitch and we can have a successful season.
“But right now I’m really enjoying being in Italy.”
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Smalling moved to Italy without being able to speak the language, but he says after a couple of months in the country his situation has become very comfortable.
He continued: “I’m starting to pick up things the manager is saying in Italian, and even with the players I’m lucky as quite a few of them speak English.
“I’m definitely picking up a lot of football phrases and a lot of basic phrases that are helping me interact with the team on and off the pitch.
“I am feeling very settled; my family is over here and the dogs are over here, so everyone is settled. When my family are happy and I am happy it shows on the pitch.
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“Overall I can’t ask for much more in terms of my stay, which has been short so far, and at the minute my focus is on making sure this team has a settled season.
“The manager’s targets are not just about getting back in the Champions League – it is about winning something.
“That is where my full focus is, and come the end of the season when we’ve won something and achieved something we can see where it goes.
“Right now it is all about focus on the pitch.”