In Focus: Location could be key as West Ham and Everton battle for Smalling

According to reports in The Telegraph, West Ham United, Everton and West Bromwich Albion are all eyeing a summer move for £15m-rated Manchester United and England defender Chris Smalling.

What’s the word, then?

Well, despite winning the Red Devils’ Players’ Player of the Year award in the 2015/16 season, injury problems saw the 27-year-old fall out of favour under Jose Mourinho last term and the Portuguese manager doesn’t believe the Three Lions international has the quality – or the right mentality – to be part of a defence aiming for the Premier League title.

United are willing to listen to offers of around £15m for the centre-back, which has alerted the interest of a number of top flight clubs, including the Hammers, the Toffees and the Baggies.

How did Smalling do last season?

The 27-year-old made 36 appearances in all competitions but only half of those came in the Premier League in a campaign that was blighted by injury.

Smalling missed a total of 21 matches because of a broken toe and then a knee problem, meaning he has fallen behind the likes of Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones in the pecking order, before any arrivals in that position this summer.

Would he be a good signing for the trio?

He certainly would be.

While he may have endured a disappointing campaign last time out, Smalling was putting in performances that had established himself as one of the best in his position in the Premier League just a year earlier, and he certainly still has a lot to give.

Having made 243 appearances in all competitions for United and with European experience to boot – as well as 31 England caps – he could potentially prove to be a bargain buy at £15m, especially considering he is approaching the prime years of his career.

Who are the favourites for his signature?

Well, Everton can offer him Europa League football which West Ham and West Brom aren’t able to, and he would surely be a first choice at Goodison Park with one of Phil Jagielka or Ashley Williams dropping out of the starting line-up.

He would face more competition with the Irons considering they already have Jose Fonte, Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid, but the chance to move back to London considering he was born in Greenwich could be tempting.

What’s the verdict, then?

Well, there could be a big battle for Smalling’s signature this summer, but West Ham and Everton certainly look to be the frontrunners.