Manchester United’s Premier League rivals Everton are reportedly plotting to sign defender Chris Smalling on a free transfer in the summer.

According to a report from The Sun, Manchester United centre-back Chris Smalling is wanted by Everton on a free transfer, when his contract with the Red Devils expires at the end of the season.

The 28-year-old Smalling has been with Manchester United for over eight years now, having moved to Old Trafford back in the summer of 2010 from Fulham. During this period, he has notched up over 300 appearances for the club, winning a couple of Premier League titles, along with a League Cup, an FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League trophy.

Smalling has struggled for consistency throughout his spell with Manchester United and has been in and out of the team on a regular occasion. However, the England international has established himself as a mainstay under Jose Mourinho in the ongoing campaign, despite a few dodgy displays at the back.

Manchester United are eyeing defensive reinforcements in the January transfer window to fix their leaky backline, having failed to sign a new centre-half in the summer. A number of names have been linked recently, with the Red Devils believed to be taking an interest in Chelsea’s Gary Cahill.

Meanwhile, the latest rumours suggest that Manchester United are also set to launch another attempt for Atletico Madrid captain Diego Godin. This has cast doubts over the futures of the defensive personnel currently at the club. And with Smalling currently in the final year of his contract with United, Everton are hoping to capitalise on the situation and sign him up on a free transfer at the end of the season.

On his way out? (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
On his way out? (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Everton manager Marco Silva is understood to have sent scouts to watch the former Fulham man in action on a number of occasions this term. Phil Jagielka is in the twilight of his career and Kurt Zouma will return to Chelsea after his loan deal expires, leaving the Toffees in search of additions to their backline. And, the Portuguese has narrowed down on Smalling as a viable target.

Manchester United have held negotiations with Smalling over a new deal. The defender is currently on wages of £90,000-a-week and is seeking improved terms on his new contract, with a resolution expected to be arrived at by the new year.

A club source told The Sun, “Chris has been looked at by a number of clubs, but Everton have shown a lot of interest. He is out of contract next summer and there’s been chats over extending it, but nothing has been finalised as of yet. There needs to be some protection of the investment in him, so don’t be surprised if the new year deal comes in.”

However, should Manchester United extend the player’s contract, Everton are planning to move in on the 28-year-old in the winter transfer window itself. The report further claims that an offer in the range of £30 million could tempt the Red Devils into cashing in on their defender in January.

With the potential arrival of a new defender at Old Trafford, Smalling faces an uncertain future ahead of him. And it remains to be seen if he pens a new contract at Manchester United or chooses to depart on a free transfer at the end of the season.

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