Roma remain hopeful of doing a permanent deal with Manchester United for Chris Smalling, but the club’s sporting director, Gianluca Petrachi, says any future call will be left in the hands of the England international.
The 30-year-old defender has impressed in Italy since completing a season-long loan switch.
Having dropped down the pecking order at Old Trafford on the back of a record-breaking transfer for Harry Maguire, Smalling opened himself him to new challenges.
So consistent has he been with Roma that many back in Manchester have questioned why he was allowed to leave in the first place.
His current club are, however, hoping to be the ones to benefit from his ongoing presence, with Petrachi eager to push through another agreement with United in the summer.
He told the Daily Mail: “There is a chance.
“The player will choose what to do. If he really wishes, we will be happy to have him with us permanently.
“We are very happy with Smalling and he knows it. With Manchester United, the relationship is excellent, we have an excellent feeling with the club.”
Petrachi added on Smalling, who has taken in 21 appearances across all competitions this season: “The boy is charismatic. He loves Rome and the Italian lifestyle.
“Smalling finds himself very peaceful in Rome, lives comfortably and has returned to great levels.
“He follows an Italian course to improve his grasp of the language. This made me very happy because it shows that the boy is intelligent.
“Technically he is very strong. I think it is fundamental for a sporting director to understand how some players can do well. I thought this move could work and I'm happy that the results prove me right.”
Petrachi played a leading role in identifying Smalling as a top target for Roma in the summer of 2019 and is pleased to have seen his faith in the centre-half justified.
He added: “My characteristic has always been to choose guys with determination and desire to do well.
“Smalling wanted to demonstrate his strength. My goal is to make people play better and create harmony around them. He needed that.
“I was looking for an aggressive central defender to support a young man like Gianluca Mancini. Smalling was perfect for my football idea to help Mancini to grow rapidly.
“Smalling is a serious and professional guy, a good person.”
Smalling’s contract at United is due to run until 2022, with the Red Devils having the option of a 12-month extension beyond that point.