Ex-Roma chief gives damning review of Man Utd’s "hoax" transfer strategy

Roma's former director of football has admitted that he thought Manchester United's transfer strategy was a hoax.

The Serie A club dealt with United over the deal which saw Chris Smalling head out on loan.

Smalling was deemed surplus to requirements at United and Roma swooped for a season-long loan, which cost less than £3million.

He became an integral member of their team, making 30 appearances in the league.

Smalling initially returned to United in the summer, but the move was made permanent with a £13million switch agreed before the end of the window.

Roma's then-director of football Gianluca Petrachi has now explained how he thought that he was part of a hoax because of how cheaply they could land Smalling's services.

"We were trying to sign Dejan Lovren (from Liverpool), but I did not want to spend so much on a player with a groin problem," Petrachi told Corriere dello Sport.

"An Italian agent then called me and said: 'you can have Smalling on loan.' I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a hoax.

"Smalling is one of those players great at marking that are going extinct."

United have since been criticised for letting Smalling go, given their disastrous start to the season when it comes to defending.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men sit 14th in the table and have had some alarming results, not least the 6-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the campaign.

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