Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is treading an unfamiliar path in Serie A this season.
The 29-year-old was set to be on the fringes of the first-team picture at Old Trafford, with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire ahead of him in the pecking order, but he chose to join AS Roma instead of twiddling his thumbs waiting for game time.
Now, plenty of players would have been happy to stay at the Theatre of Dreams and sleepwalk through a season, but Mike – sorry, Chris – has bucked the trend.
He’s experiencing what few British footballers can claim to have experienced; playing abroad.
Italian football is a completely different kettle of fish compared to the Premier League, with an emphasis on rugged defending and tactical acumen compared to the gung-ho nature of England’s top tier.
But how has he adapted to the critical demands of the Stadio Olimpico? The centre-back has made a total of 10 appearances to date (contributing to five clean sheets in the process) and seems to be grabbing the opportunity with both hands.
And have the Giallorossi supporters taken to the Englishman? Or are they unconvinced about his ability with the ball at his feet, similar to the stance of Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate?
The man himself is not short of confidence and is convinced that a spell in Italy is helping to rejuvenate his career so we sent Statman Dave off to the Eternal City with Homefans to find out if Smalling is cutting the mustard or could be sent packing at the end of the 2019/20 campaign.
After all, AS Roma have an option to sign the defender on a permanent deal, so they’ve got a decision on their hands.