Benitez could give Smalling fresh challenge at Newcastle United

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez should consider making a move for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling amid reports from the Daily Mail that Jose Mourinho is planning to sell one of his centre-backs.

What’s the word?

The Magpies are a defender short having sold Chancel Mbemba to Porto on Monday.

Plus, club captain Jamaal Lascelles is often linked with a move away from St James’ Park, which suggests that Benitez should be keeping an eye out for potential new centre-backs to recruit.

As mentioned, the Daily Mail reports that Mourinho needs to offload one of his defenders in order to pursue Leicester City’s Harry Maguire.

Smalling – valued at £16.2m by Transfermarkt – could be on the chopping block due to his inconsistency on the pitch.

The England international has divided United fans over the years as he is capable of being a pillar of strength at the back, but is also prone to lapses in concentration, and in particular last season he was caught out a handful of times.

Why should Newcastle go for him, then?

Smalling has not suddenly become a bad player, but perhaps he is no longer up to the standards held at United.

The 28-year-old has plenty of experience and is used to being among a group of players with a winning mentality.

During his eight years at Old Trafford, the defender has won five major trophies, including two Premier League titles.

Newcastle could do with another confident centre-back, even if Lascelles stays put this summer.

Joining the Magpies would be a step down for Smalling in terms of competing for silverware, but his time at United has gone a little stale and a fresh challenge could be just what he needs to revive his career.