What Chris Smalling said when asked if he left Man Utd because of Harry Maguire | Football | Sport
The former Fulham defender has signed for the Italian outfit on a season-long loan after slipping down the pecking order at Manchester United.
The 29-year-old made 24 appearances in all competitions last season, but has now admitted that he was aware of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans to pair Maguire and Victor Linelof.
“Not really,” he told the Telegraph when asked if Maguire had effected his future.
“I had spoken to the manager before Harry came and I knew I was behind him and Vic [Lindelof] but in previous seasons I had started behind [two first-choice centre-backs] and after four or five games I had worked myself into the team.
“I love a challenge and when a new centre-back comes in it makes you raise your game.
“You have to show more, you have to be more consistent.”
He added: “If I had stayed I would have taken on that challenge and I would have been very confident that I would have played the number of games that I was worthy of.
“Equally I have a challenge here at Roma.
“Going back I will have an added element that some of the centre-backs won’t have.
“The easy decision was to stay.”
Smelling was also asked why few English players decide to play abroad, and mentioned the language barrier as an issue.
He continued: “You do see very few English players going abroad and those that do are largely good players otherwise they wouldn’t have gone.
“I feel a lot of their downfall is in the language. On the pitch you can learn the different basics of ‘left’, ‘right’ and ‘behind you’ but off the pitch you want to have that influence around the team.
“We will be traveling together as a team so it is important to communicate as much as I can. That helps me be more comfortable around my team-mates.“