Silly season! Let’s dive right in, because it’s Sunday and a slow news day and why the hell not. The Mail says that Tottenham Hotspur is casting its steely gaze upon Manchester United’s Chris Smalling as possible defensive cover as the club tries to reinforce its defense for a third consecutive run at the title.
Why Chris Smalling? Apparently he’s next in line after we lost out to Hull City’s Harry Maguire when he left for Leicester City. You might think that this supposition makes this a cromulent rumor. It is not.
Let’s take a look and see what the Mail actually has to say.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino could turn his attention to Manchester United's Chris Smalling after losing out to Leicester City for £17million defender Harry Maguire.
Aha! Weasel words! Mauricio Pochettino COULD turn his attention to Smalling. Why, he could also sign Sergio Ramos this summer, or he could also just stick with Kevin Wimmer and Cameron Carter-Vickers. There’s an infinite realm of possibility in that one little world.
There are a lot of things wrong with this particular rumor, not least that United and Tottenham don’t have the best of relationships when it comes to player sales. The last time a Spurs player went to United was Dimitar Berbatov, and I can’t remember the last time a United player transferred to Tottenham. Has it ever happened in the modern era? Does Frazier Campbell count? I should probably look that up but it’s Sunday and Father’s Day and I’m too lazy. Journimalism!
Now, look — it is not at all out of the realm of possibility that Manchester United will sell Smalling somewhere, now that they just finalized the signing of Victor Lindelof. And actually, he’d be a pretty good fit at Spurs as a rotation option — he’s perfectly decent, in fact. Probably not good enough to challenge Jan Vertonghen or Toby Alderweireld for a place in the first choice XI, but certainly better than Kevin Wimmer.
He’s reportedly on £80k/week at United, which seems high but is stupid cheap for United, and affordable for Tottenham even under their current wage structure. That kind of money also isn’t outrageous anymore in today’s modern football — Gylfi Sigurdsson is probably going to be making near £100k/week before the end of the summer. Smalling is also home grown, which is an added bonus.
I don’t know what kind of transfer fee he would command, but considering United is probably going to be upgrading their defense this summer, it probably wouldn’t be out of Spurs’ price range if they’re serious.
But no, this is still the Mail. There are no quotes, there’s certainly no evidence. Tottenham are already linked at a number of other CB targets that are at least close to Smalling’s level and that would probably be cheaper. What’s more likely is that the Mail is conflating the £50m-for-Eric-Dier story with this one and suggesting Smalling could be used as a makeweight to get Dier to Manchester. I wouldn’t hate Smalling at Tottenham, but not if it means sending Dier the other way. This particular rumor has all the makings of a big ol’ nothingburger. Enjoy your Sunday.