Newcastle now eying deal for ‘extraordinary’ £18m star, but there’s a hitch


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Newcastle United are continuing their rebuild, and may now target a transfer to bring Chris Smalling back to England from Roma in a bid to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

That’s according to TeleRadioStereo, via TuttoMercatoWEB, who report the Magpies have begun giving thought to Smalling’s potential capture during January. The Toon’s Saudi-led owners want to spend to give boss Eddie Howe the best possible chance of sealing safety.

United are in the drop zone after 19 matches, just one-point better off than basement boys Norwich. Yet the St James’ Park side are also two-points from safety and face Watford next.

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A major problem for Newcastle this term has been their prolific rate of conceding goals. No side has allowed more than the 42 the Toon and Norwich have shipped so far this season.

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Newcastle have also only kept one clean sheet this term, coming during their sole win over Burnley. Additionally, they have conceded two or more goals in 12 of their league fixtures.

Newcastle consider Premier League return for Roma defender Smalling

Howe has already moved to improve his defence with a £12m deal for Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid. Now, Newcastle may pair the right-back with a former England teammate in Smalling with a deal with Roma. But the Magpies will face hurdles in any winter pursuit.

A move to St James’ during the January window does not totally convince Smalling, having recently regained a key role in Jose Mourinho’s plans. The 32-year-old had only started one of the Giallorossi’s opening 13 Serie A games, but has since opened each of their last eight.

Mourinho was also considering Smalling’s future at the Stadio Olimpico before his recall in November. Calciomercato noted the Portuguese had started to weigh up cashing in on his former Red Devils enforcer over doubts relating to the defender’s physical integrity.

Smalling has suffered with occasional injuries this term, after enduring a campaign blighted by fitness issues last season, too. He featured 21 times in 2020/21 to 27 games missed.

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Howe can land ‘extraordinary’ defender with Stadio Olimpico raid

Possible Newcastle transfer target Smalling joined Roma in October 2020 from Manchester United for £13.5m, rising to £18m with add-ons. He completed the switch following a year-long loan in Rome, to remain working under Paulo Fonseca.

Fonseca – who Newcastle also spoke to before hiring Howe – was full of praise for Smalling while Roma boss, too. He said before the defender’s permanent switch, via quotes by Goal:

“He’s an extraordinary guy, very intelligent. He has characteristics that I really appreciate in the centre [of defence]. He’s fast, nearly unbeatable in one-on-ones. He has a great ability to read the play and anticipate. He was very important for this club [while on loan].”

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