Tottenham interest in dominant ex-Man Utd star sparks panicked response, as Conte prepares to ‘go wild’

Chris Smalling tussling with Romelu Lukaku as Inter Milan face Roma Credit: Alamy
Chris Smalling tussling with Romelu Lukaku as Inter Milan face Roma Credit: Alamy

The director of a Serie A side has insisted a player heavily linked with a 2023 move – potentially to Tottenham – will stay, though other reports have begun pointing towards an exit.

Tottenham finally ended their streak of conceding the first goal when defeating Crystal Palace 4-0 last Wednesday. Defensive issues have repeatedly hamstrung Antonio Conte’s side this season, something that should not occur given the Italian deploys five at the back and at least two holding midfielders.

To remedy the problem, a move for a new right wing-back is understood to be in play this month.

Sporting Lisbon’s Pedro Porro is in their sights, though today’s Euro Paper Talk highlighted the threat Chelsea are now posing.

An arrival or two at centre-half could also be in the works, though they may have to wait until the summer.

Serie A is where Tottenham’s attention will likely fall once again. The Fabio Paratici-Conte partnership has served Spurs well in the market with regards to Italian deals thus far.

Alessandro Bastoni would represent a stellar addition, though a rather more cost-effective option could come in the form of Chris Smalling.

Tottenham sizing up Roma stand-out Chris Smalling

The former Man Utd centre-back, 33, has been nothing short of sensational since moving to Roma.

Smalling initially joined on loan in 2019 before making the move permanent in 2020. He’s been a dominant force in Serie A over the past few season and Roma are determined to ensure the good times keep on rolling.

However, Smalling’s current deal is due to expire at season’s end. Now we’re past January 1, Tottenham are free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement if they so desire, while Inter Milan and Juventus are also drawing links.

CalciomercatoWeb reported Conte is ‘ready to go wild’ for Smalling at some stage in 2023. talkSPORT also put Spurs among the veteran’s admirers.

Ahead of Roma’s 2-2 draw with AC Milan on Sunday, their director, Tiago Pinto, stressed his desire to see Smalling pen fresh terms.

“Smalling starts today, you will see how important he is for this team,” said Pinto (via Football Italia).

“Both us and the player want to continue together.”

Roma’s ideal outcome is clear, though Sky Italia aren’t so sure Smalling will remain in Rome.

Risky Roma strategy could backfire

Back in December they revealed Smalling’s current deal actually contains an option for an extra 12 months. It’ll become active once Smalling makes 29 appearances this season, though it won’t automatically trigger at that stage.

Once the 29-appearance mark is hit, it’s reported the decision on whether an extra 12 months are tacked on will then be Smalling’s to make.

What’s more, talkSPORT reported he’s seeking a longer term deal. Moving into a back three – much in the same way Thiago Silva has at Chelsea – would be an ideal way to extend his career and cover up his advancing age. Conte specialises in the back three system.

Furthermore, Sky Italia state Roma will play hard ball over a contract extension outside of the one-year option.

It’s claimed they’ll refuse to engage in a back and forth with Smalling’s camp. Additionally, the two-year deal they proposed back in October – which they intend to keep putting forward – would actually result in Smalling taking a pay-cut.

If Roma’s powerplay prompts Smalling into considering his options, Tottenham will seemingly be among those heading up the queue.

A free agent pick-up to shore up a leaky back line looks a win-win on paper for Tottenham.

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