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Chris Smalling admits ‘massive relief’ after sealing Man Utd exit for Roma move

Chris Smalling has admitted his deadline day move from Manchester United to Roma came as a "massive relief".

Smalling ended his 10-year association with United on Monday, joining the Serie A club in an £18million deal on the final day of the transfer window.

The former England centre-back impressed on loan at the Stadio Olimpico last season, and hailed the "special" welcome he received from fans in Italy after making his move permanent.

Smalling also praised United, saying he left Old Trafford as "not only a better player, but a better person" after making 323 appearances since joining the Premier League giants from Fulham in 2010.

"United is a special place, and we achieved special things together, something I am beyond proud about," the 30-year-old wrote on Twitter.

"An unrivalled culture, where winning is not a want it is a need. I leave not only a better player, but a better person, with Utd forever in my DNA.

"For that, I have to thank all the staff, everyone connected to the club, and you the fans."

Smalling's move back to Serie A has perplexed many as it has left United short of centre-backs, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side having been defensively poor this season.

The centre-back appeared to have fallen out of favour at Old Trafford once United signed Harry Maguire from Leicester City for a record £80m.

And he spoke of his relief at securing his future after signing a four-year deal with Roma.

"It’s a massive, massive relief. I think that everyone knew I wanted to come back and to finally get it done, albeit so close to the deadline, it’s just pure relief," he told Roma's official website.

"Now I can enjoy being back and then get straight back to it with the team tomorrow."

On his reception from Roma fans after touching down in Italy, Smalling said: "It was truly, truly special. I could feel tingles up my spine.

"To see such a big crowd as soon as I landed… honestly, I felt the love from the fans as soon as I first stepped on the pitch but it has just grown and grown [since] and it’s just such a special feeling."

Smalling is now targeting silverware with Roma after helping them finish fifth in Serie A last season.

The Giallorossi have now won a major trophy since their Coppa Italia triumph in 2008, and Smalling wants to end that wait.

"I think one of my first goals was to be here long-term, and now it’s about getting a trophy," he said.

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"I think that was something that was alluded to me when I first joined and I think now that is an aim that this club needs.

"Because I think even when I joined, this is obviously a massive club – but it has been without a trophy for a long time now.

"So that’s going to be one of my aims and I’m sure one of the team’s aims this season, to really give something back for the fans to cheer about."

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