Nothing about Roma's dealings with English clubs this season has worked out the way we expected. When the club signed a trio of Premiership castoffs last summer, the prevailing wisdom was that Chelsea's Davide Zappacosta would be the best fit. After all, he was Italian, had experience in the league and played a position of dire need. Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were interesting names and worthwhile transfers, but I'm not sure anyone knew what to expect. Mkhitaryan had an inconsistent run in England after leaving Dortmund several years ago, while Manchester United fans were stunned that they actually found a taker for Chris Smalling.
And yet here we are. Almost a year after these loans were signed, Zappacosta never made his mark with Roma and is unceremoniously heading back to Chelsea, while Mkhitaryan and Smalling have become indispensable components in Fonseca Football®. Roma, with a big assist from Mino Raiola, were able to arrange a full-time deal for Mkhitaryan to remain in Rome, but they've had no such luck with Manchester United.
If we averaged it out, I'd guess that a new Smalling update drops every two to three weeks, and indeed this marks the third such update of July. Way back on the 10th, Alfredo Pedullo and Sportitalia reported that Roma and United were close to hammering out a €20 million loan + obligation to buy deal, with €3 million due upfront and the remaining €17 million payable over three years.
That obviously never happened, so on July 19th we passed along word of a slightly modified deal in which Roma would pay €15 million—again, payable over three years—to retain Smalling permanently, plus a €1 million penalty of sorts if Smalling played against United in the climax to the ‘19-’20 Europa League, to be played next month.