Chris Smalling believes staying at Manchester United as a fringe player would have been an easy option for him and says he is ready to instead prove his worth at Roma.
The 29-year-old defender swapped Old Trafford for Stadio Olimpico last month in search of regular playing time following the £80million arrival of Harry Maguire at United.
Smalling was unwilling to play a bit-part role for the Red Devils and is hoping to improve his game during a season-long loan in Serie A.
“The easy decision was to stay. I had spoken to the manager before Harry came and I knew I was behind him and Victor [Lindelof],” he told The Telegraph.
“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.
— Chris Smalling (@ChrisSmalling) September 6, 2019
“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.
“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 [to United], I will have an added element that some of the centre-backs won’t have.”
Revealing his discussions with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before leaving, Smalling said: “He told me I would get games. I am used to playing when I am fit – although that might have been slightly different this season.
“I would have had the cup games and then in the league, depending on injuries. Would it have been the 40 to 50 games that I am used to if fit? It might have been the 20 to 30. Still a good number of games but I want to play.”
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