Man Utd chief Ed Woodward warned he is making transfer mistake as defender nears move

Manchester United are making a mistake selling Chris Smalling and should give him another opportunity to prove himself in the first team, according to former Arsenal defender Martin Keown. United are attempting to get as much money as they can for Smalling following his successful loan spell at Roma last season. The England international is clearly not in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s immediate plans as he has been training with the under-23s of late.

But Keown believes Smalling would be a better option at the back for United than Victor Lindelof.

Lindelof received plenty of criticism for his performance in the 3-1 loss to Crystal Palace in United’s first Premier League game of the season.

Keown says the Swede would not have succeeded at Roma to the extent that Smalling did.

“I just feel that Chris Smalling should be given an opportunity,” Keown said on talkSPORT.

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“I look at Lindelof and feel that Smalling’s maybe a better player.

“But it seems as if a decision’s been made for Smalling to leave already.

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“I’m not sure Lindelof could have gone to Roma and performed the way that Smalling has.

“If we look at both players in isolation, there’s a lack of mobility at the moment.

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“The Smalling situation demonstrates in football that as a player you’re just a commodity.

“At the moment they’re trying to get him out, as they’re trying to get [Jadon] Sancho in from Dortmund, he’s just a pawn in all of this game and when that game’s over and the transfer window finishes then if he’s available he comes back into the thinking of the manager.

“But for now he’s not going to play and it’s a shame, along with Phil Jones who is another one they seem to have given up on, Smalling is one of those.”

Meanwhile, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked about the potential of new signings at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

But the Norwegian said his focus was firmly on the trip to Brighton.

Solskjaer said: “As I’ve said so many times, I’m very confident in my players. If, and when, something happens, both ins and outs, we’ll update you.

“In football you can’t predict too much. But, for me, we’re just working on getting better.

“My focus is solely on the game and I can’t be thinking any other way. We need three points in this game.”

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