Why Arsenal Should Avoid Signing Smalling And Look For Better Options
Arsenal are reportedly interested in signing Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling at the end of the season. Smalling has endured a tough time lately at United and Arsene Wenger is understood to be making plans to sign him for Arsenal.
According to the Daily Star, the Gunners will have to cough up £25m in order to sign Smalling from United. It is understood United would be open to selling the England international in the summer as they are reportedly lining up a sensational bid for Tottenham Hotspur defender Toby Alderweireld in the summer.
Even if the Red Devils are ready to sell Smalling, do Arsenal need the centre-back at the Emirates?
The Gunners are in the market for a new defender but it would be sensational to see them sign another United player. Having missed out on signing Jonny Evans from West Brom in the winter transfer window, Wenger has shifted his focus to Smalling, whose Old Trafford future has been in doubt for some time.
Smalling arrived at United with much fanfare and despite having spent so much time with the club, he is yet to become a reliable centre-half. The 28-year-old has come under a lot of fire lately for his shocking displays in defence for Jose Mourinho’s side. Smalling conceded the free-kick from which Newcastle scored the winner at St. James’ Park on February 11.
Smalling and Phil Jones were deemed to be future pillars at the back for United when Sir Alex Ferguson signed them from Fulham and Blackburn respectively. The English duo has endured a difficult few weeks, with United also suffering defeat at Wembley against Tottenham.
As things stand, neither Smalling nor Jones has lived up to the billing this season and Mourinho might try and cash in on one of the centre-backs at the end of the campaign. It looks like Smalling could get the axe. Smalling can do some decent defending but when he goes up against a quality striker, he tends to become nervous and shaky at times. The 28-year-old is a traditional defender and is not a ball-playing defender.
If many think he is a powerful and commanding figure at the back, then he isn’t exactly that. Smalling doesn’t inspire confidence and has a bad habit of holding the players while defending. The defender concedes cheap fouls and free-kicks and despite having a burly figure, he isn’t that authoritative in the air.
One of the foremost issues with Smalling is that he lacks discipline. He can be relied upon against lesser quality opposition but not against top Premier League clubs or elite European teams. The centre-back has helped his cause at United despite playing for the club since 2010.
It has been eight long years yet Smalling hasn’t turned into a calm and composed defender. At 28 years of age, one expects maturity and sound reading of the game but the former Fulham man lacks all those qualities.
Do Arsenal still need Smalling? Absolutely not. Per Mertesacker is set to retire at the end of the season and Laurent Koscielny has started ageing. Wenger has the big job to bring in quality replacements but he just cannot think of signing United defender Smalling, who, regardless of entering the late 20’s, is yet to peak. Arsenal need proven quality players and Smalling is just not up to that standard.