With the news and expectations that accompany the arrival of William Saliba in the summer, Arsenal fans have been busying themselves to find a suitable partner for the Frenchman from inside and outside the club. However, few were prepared for the recent news of Arsenal’s interest in the distinctly average Manchester United flop, Chris Smalling.
It’s a joke, isn’t it? It has to be.
It’s an established fact that Arsenal’s transfer record between themselves and Manchester United isn’t exactly great and if anything, it has favoured the Red Devils. Mikael Silvestre, Brian Kidd, Danny Welbeck, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan hardly set Arsenal on fire but in the opposite direction, we gave them Frank Stapleton, Andy Cole and Robin Van Persie.
Now it seems the former Premier League giants want to inflict more embarrassment on the North London club as revenge for Alexis Sanchez. Manchester United thought they were buying a thoroughbred racehorse but realised within six months, they’d bought a three-legged cart horse. That deal didn’t work well for either club because Mkhitaryan, who traded places with the Chilean, did no better.
Defensively, Arsenal needs a stable partnership at the back and William Saliba is half a dozen leagues above anything on the Arsenal first team, reserve bench or in the ranks of its academy.
In my opinion, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, and Luke Shaw have hypnotised United and it’s recent managers into believing that they were of the required standard when they were no more than average.
Chris Smalling has never really cemented his place and has shown no grit or determination whilst at Old Trafford to improve the side, himself or his game in the Premier League and it was absolutely no surprise when the 30-year-old was loaned out to Roma in Serie A.
It was said that Roma were keen to sign him long term and that would have been a great move for United and an even better one from an Arsenal point of view. He’s done reasonably well for Roma in all honesty, playing in nine games, keeping five clean sheets and scoring twice.
So what’s my issue with him?
He just isn’t Premier League material and has had a disjointed and inconsistent Manchester United career which hasn’t been helped by poor leadership and bad management but apart from this, William Saliba needs a like-minded partner who can assume control at the back as one half of an unshakeable duo. Chris Smalling isn’t that player.
In my mind, he’s so unconvincing that Arsenal would be better served to persevere with Shkodran Mustafi or Sokratis, which is quite an admission.
I’d rather urge Mikel Arteta to promote Zech Medley, Mark McGuinness, Harry Clarke or utility player Zak Swanson, as opposed to buying another misfit who takes three seasons to show he wasn’t up to the job in the first place.