Chris Smalling has joined Italian side, Roma, on a permanent deal on Friday, after ten years with Manchester United.
Roma have signed English defender Chris Smalling for 15 million euros (£13.5 million, $17.5 million) from Manchester United, the Serie A club confirmed on Monday.
In a statement, Roma said that the 30-year-old, who scored three goals in 37 appearances in all competitions on loan at the Italian club last season, has signed a deal that would keep him in the Italian capital until the end of June 2023.
Smalling had taken well to life in Rome and earned himself the nickname ‘Smalldini’ following commanding displays in the Roma defence.
“Nothing in life worth having comes easy,” Smalling said.
“My head and my heart has always been in Rome. I am delighted to now be yours. Daje (come on) Roma!”
The deal, which had dragged on for most of the transfer window and reportedly was only registered with barely any time to spare, includes a further five million euros in add-ons according to media reports.
Smalling was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2010 from Fulham, and went on to make 323 appearances for the club, scoring 18 goals.
Roma also announced that they had sold Argentine winger Diego Perotti to Turkish side Fenerbahce on transfer deadline day, ending his five-year spell at the club.
Earlier on Monday, United made their second signing of the window as Brazilian international left-back Alex Telles joined from Porto.
Roma on Thursday announced a change of ownership, with US billionaire Dan Friedkin buying the Serie A club for 591 million euros ($700 million).
Friedkin, 54, takes over the Italian side from American businessman James Pallotta, 62.
“AS Roma can confirm that an agreement has tonight been reached between AS Roma SPV, LLC, the majority shareholder of AS Roma S.p.A, and The Friedkin Group regarding the sale of the club,” the club said in a statement.
“The operation is valued at around 591 million euros,” the club added. The final sales agreement must be signed before the end of August.
Pallotta bought two-thirds of the club’s shares in 2012, but has had 100 percent ownership since 2014.
Houston-based Friedkin is the chief executive of the Friedkin Group, a consortium notably involved in the automotive and hotel and entertainment industry.
“All of us at The Friedkin Group are so happy to have taken the steps to become a part of this iconic city and club,” said Friedkin in a statement.
“We look forward to closing the purchase as soon as possible and immersing ourselves in the AS Roma family.”
According to Forbes, his fortune is estimated at just over four billion dollars (3.6 billion euros), which would make him the 504th richest man in the world.
Friedkin’s son Ryan will reportedly be involved in the day to day running of the club.
“Over the last month, Dan and Ryan Friedkin have demonstrated their total commitment to finalising this deal and taking the club forward in a positive way,” said Pallotta.
“I am sure they will be great future owners for AS Roma.”
Boston-based Pallotta had been unpopular among club fans for his rare appearances in Italy and his handling of player transfers and the departures of club legends Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi who were both pushed out of the club.
Roma have had recurring financial difficulties and been sanctioned by European football’s governing body UEFA for breaches of financial fair play.
As a result the club are very active in the transfer market, regularly selling off their best players, to the chagrin of fans.
Pallotta’s great project had been the construction of a new stadium in the south of the capital which was delayed because of legal and bureaucratic issues, and remains at the planning stage.
The high-point of Pallotta’s reign was the club’s sensational Champions League 3-0 second leg comeback in 2018 to beat Barcelona, before losing to Liverpool in the semi-finals.
The club won their third Serie A title in 2001, but have not lifted any silverware since the Italian Cup in 2008.
This season they finished fifth, missing out on elite European competition for the second year in a row.
Serie A club Roma on Monday confirmed negotiations with US billionaire Dan Friedkin to buy the Italian club.
“The Friedkin Group are in negotiations related to a potential transaction involving NEEP Roma Holding Spa and its subsidiaries – including AS Roma,” the club said in a statement early Monday.
It follows reports that the 54-year-old Texas-based businessman will imminently take over as majority shareholder from fellow American James Pallotta in a deal worth up to 780 million euros ($872 million).
“AS Roma informs that no definitive agreements concerning a transfer … have been formalised to date and that any potential transaction with The Friedkin Group remains subject to a successful completion of a legal due diligence upon the AS Roma Group,” the statement continued.
According to several media reports, a preliminary agreement has been reached with Friedkin to take over from a US consortium led by Pallotta, who bought two-thirds of Roma’s shares in 2012.
Since then Pallotta, 61, has been pushing for the construction of a new stadium in Rome, but it remains at a planning stage.
US-based Pallotta remains unpopular among club fans for his rare appearances in Italy and his handling of club legends Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi who were both pushed out of the club.
Friedkin is the chief executive of Friedkin Group, the owner of Gulf States Toyota, an independent vehicle distributor in the US. Passionate about cinema, he has also produced several films.
Friedkin’s son Ryan could move to the Italian capital to manage the club, according to Italian news agency AGI.
Pallotta, chairman of Boston-based hedge fund Raptor Capital Management, may keep a minority stake in the club, according to reports.
Three-time Italian league champions Roma, who have not won Serie A since 2001, are currently fourth in the Italian league, just behind city rivals Lazio.
Their last silverware was the Italian Cup in 2008.
They reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2018, but did not qualify for the European competition this season.
Felipe Caicedo snatched a late winner to keep Lazio third in Serie A with a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo on Sunday just ahead of city rivals Roma, who beat Brescia 3-0 with England defender Chris Smalling involved in all of his side’s goals.
Champions Juventus maintained their grip on the top of Serie A with a 3-1 win at Atalanta on Saturday, to stay one-point ahead of Inter Milan who eased past Torino 3-0.
The two Roman outfits are now third and fourth respectively before Cagliari, a point behind in fifth, play lowly Lecce later on Sunday.
Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile struck to put Lazio ahead after 34 minutes in Sassuolo with his 15th league goal this season.
But struggling Sassuolo pulled back a goal back through Francesco Caputo just before the break.
Ecuadorian Caicedo came off the bench to seal a fifth consecutive league win in injury time to keep Lazio seven points behind Inter Milan in third place.
Roma are now two points behind their local rivals after defender Smalling scored and set up the other two goals in a victory over bottom club Brescia.
Smalling, on-loan for the season from Manchester United, headed in the first from a corner after 48 minutes in the Stadio Olimpico.
The 30-year-old then provided the cross that allowed fellow defender Gianluca Mancini to volley in eight minutes later, with Edin Dzeko completing the rout on 66 minutes after Smalling’s headed assist.
Brescia, now coached by 2006 World Cup winner Fabio Grosso, remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
Forward Mario Balotelli was dropped for Sunday’s game because of his lack of commitment in training.
The Italy international tried to play down Thursday’s training ground bust-up with Grosso.
“Recovery! Coming back soon, for the moment let them talk,” the former Marseille attacker said in a post on Instagram showing him undergoing physiotherapy.
Elsewhere, Samuel Di Carmine scored the only goal as Verona piled the pressure on Fiorentina, despite Franck Ribery returning after his three-match suspension.
The Tuscany side is in tenth place with just one point from their last three games.
Italy forward Stephan El Shaarawy has reportedly turned down a lucrative move to China and could now sign a new contract with AS Roma, Italian media reported on Thursday.
El Shaarawy had reportedly been set to sign a three-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua worth up to 16 million euros ($18.1 million) a season.
But Sky Sport Italia reported the 26-year-old had second thoughts and did not want to leave the Italian capital.
Gazzetta Dello Sport claimed the Chinese side refused the player’s demands to have an input into the club’s choice of coach and playing staff.
Shanghai Shenhua, currently 12th in the Chinese Super League, are coached by former Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Watford manager Enrique Sánchez Flores of Spain.
El Shaarawy — nicknamed ‘The Pharoah’ because of his Egyptian ancestry — only has a year left on his contract with the Serie A club, having joined Roma in 2016 from AC Milan after a loan spell in Monaco.
The 23-times capped Italian international is reportedly looking for a new deal worth four million euros a year with Roma.
He scored 11 goals in Serie A last season, as Roma finished sixth and qualified for the Europa League.
Pope Francis apologised to the Roma people on Sunday for the Roman Catholic Church’s “discrimination” against them as he wrapped up a visit to Romania.
Making up around 10 percent of Romania’s 20 million people, many Roma are marginalised and live in poverty and have suffered centuries of discrimination and insults.
“I ask forgiveness in the name of the Church and of the Lord and I ask forgiveness of you. For all those times in history when we have discriminated, mistreated or looked askance at you,” the pope said in a speech to the Roma community in the central town of Blaj.
“My heart, however, is heavy. It is weighed down by the many experiences of discrimination, segregation and mistreatment experienced by your communities. History tells us that Christians too, including Catholics, are not strangers to such evil,” he said.
“Indifference breeds prejudices and fosters anger and resentment. How many times do we judge rashly, with words that sting, with attitudes that sow hatred and division!”
Earlier, the pontiff beatified seven Greco-Catholic bishops jailed and tortured during the Communist era.
“The new blessed ones suffered and sacrificed their lives, opposing a system of totalitarian and coercive ideology,” he told some 60,000 worshippers attending mass on a “Field of Liberty” in Blaj.
“These shepherds, martyrs of faith, garnered for and left the Romanian people a precious heritage which we can sum up in two words: freedom and mercy,” added Francis, while praising the “diversity of religious expression” in mainly Orthodox Romania.
Regime officials detained the beatified bishops overnight on October 28, 1948, accusing them of “high treason” after they refused to convert to Orthodoxy.
The Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed under 1948-89 Communist rule.
– Buried in secret – The bishops died of maltreatment, some still in jail, others in confinement in an Orthodox monastery. They were then buried in secret — to this day the whereabouts of four of their graves is unknown.
The bars of the cells where they were held were symbolically incorporated into the throne built specially for the papal visit.
The bishops followed the Eastern Rite Catholic Church which emerged from an Orthodox schism at the end of the 17th century when the central region of Transylvania was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
While retaining Orthodox practices they recognised Roman Catholic papal authority — unacceptable for the Communist regime which took power following World War II. Under a 1948 decree formally abolishing the Eastern Catholic churches, Greco-Catholics were forcibly obliged to return to the Orthodox fold.
Under such stark political repression, most Romanian Catholics — who numbered more than 1.5 million in 1948, abandoned their faith and their community has shrunk to around 200,000 today in a country of 20 million, almost nine in 10 of whom profess Orthodoxy.
The politics which has seeped through Romania’s modern religious history has poisoned inter-faith relations — even if the papal visit has softened feelings to a degree.
“No matter where we go, to the town hall, to the police or to school, doors get closed,” a 72-year-old Roma, who gave his name as Ion, told AFP.
Roma, originating from northern India, suffered around five centuries of slavery before the practice was formally abolished in 1856.
But they remain a mainly poor and marginalised community — even if recent years have seen roads paved and homes getting running water and electricity.
– Seeking inclusiveness – Francis’s arrival in Blaj to wind up his visit was part of his attempt at inclusiveness on his three-day visit to one of what remains Europe’s poorest states.
Although Romania has developed apace since obtaining EU membership in 2007 there remain some “urban or rural ghettos where nothing has changed,” according to sociologist Gelu Duminica, who heads the anti-discrimination Impreuna (Together) association.
Duminica and others in Blaj saw it as no coincidence that Francis, often seen as a defender of the rights of the most marginalised, chose the Barbu Lautaru district of Blaj, whose inhabitants are mainly Roma, to launch his appeal for tolerance and social inclusion.
“The pope’s visit is a message for those who are marginalised, disregarded or not accepted by others,” said Mihai Gherghel, an eastern Catholic priest, who supervised the construction of the Blaj church where Francis celebrated Sunday mass.