Date: 20th February 2020 at 8:00pm
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Former Hull City defender Alex Bruce has backed Everton to make a smart acquisition by pursuing Manchester United’s Chris Smalling in the summer.

Smalling has emerged as a potential option for boss Carlo Ancelotti to target in the next transfer window, with reports suggesting the Italian head coach has been impressed by his efforts on loan in the Serie A with AS Roma.

The 30-year-old is believed to favour a permanent move to the Stadio Olimpico in the summer, despite interest from Goodison Park and Tottenham Hotspur, though faces difficulties as Roma may not be in a position to afford a deal.

Manchester United are said to value Smalling at €20million (£16.7m) and could yet demand a higher fee at the end of the season, which Roma would struggle to match without first qualifying for the Champions League.

When news emerged of Ancelotti’s interest in Smalling, vast corners of the Blues fanbase showed an instant objection to any potential type, but Bruce is assured that the 31-cap England international would be a worthwhile option to pursue.

“It does not surprise me at all,” Bruce told Football Insider. “You know exactly what you will get out of Chris.

Would Smalling be a good potential summer signing?

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“Speaking from experience from playing against him myself, I have always found him a no-nonsense steady-eddy. You know what you are going to get. He is good in the air and he is a good one-on-one defender.

“The fact that he is getting linked – especially after doing very well at Roma – does not surprise me. He would be a good acquisition for anybody.”

Smalling has amassed 24 appearances for Roma across all competitions since joining the Giallorossi on loan last summer, in which he has helped to keep seven clean sheets, scored twice and assisted one goal.

The experienced centre-half has also only sat out four Serie A fixtures this term, with muscle fatigue delaying his start to life at the Stadio Olimpico before sustaining a bruised knee in December.

Roma have not kept a clean sheet in the Italian top-flight since Smalling’s return from the knee issue, while also losing five of their eight matches – including each of their last three.

Whether Smalling would be able to avoid such at Goodison Park next season would remain to be seen, though the London-born defender does rank second overall among all centre-halves in the Serie A for aerial duels won (75 from 106), joint-third for crosses blocked (four) and is sixth for interceptions (41), per WhoScored data.

In other Everton news, the club are unlikely to target a 9-cap ace in the summer, despite Ancelotti’s eagerness for a deal in January.

 

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