In Focus: Arsenal eye swoop for Smalling

According to the Gambling Times, Arsenal are considering launching a move for Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling in the latter stages of the January transfer window.

What’s the story?

Arsenal are currently in the market for a new centre-back, and have been credited with an interest in West Bromwich Albion’s Jonny Evans.

Smalling was also believed to be a target for the Gunners last summer, and according to the Gambling Times, the capital club are ready to reignite their interest.

The report claims that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wanted Smalling to be a part of the deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan join the Gunners in exchange for Alexis Sanchez.

United boss Jose Mourinho is said to have rejected the interest, but Wenger will reportedly return with another bid for Smalling as he looks to boost his back four this month.

Would United really sell Smalling?

It would be a huge surprise if the Red Devils allowed Smalling to leave this month.

The England international is currently enjoying an extended run in the team due to the absence of Eric Bailly, who started the season alongside Phil Jones at centre-back.

Bailly and Jones is Mourinho’s first-choice partnership at centre-back, but Smalling is ahead of both Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo, and the former Fulham youngster has started United’s last two Premier League fixtures.

It is not a surprise that Arsenal are looking at a player of Smalling’s talent and experience, but it makes little sense for United to sell at this stage of the campaign.

Arsenal failed to acquire the centre-back as part of the Sanchez deal, which makes it hard to believe that the Red Devils would now sanction an individual sale.

Aside from all of that, Smalling, who is valued at £16.2m by transfermarkt.co.uk, has been very good for long spells of this season, and his experience will be vital in a busy second half of the 2017-18 campaign.