Cape Town - Manchester United have reportedly informed AS Roma they will have to fork out a fee of Pound 28 million to secure the services of Chris Smalling on a permanent basis.
Representatives for the on-loan Old Trafford central defender held talks with his parent club last weekend and they appeared to be progressing well enough.
Sources close to the deal, however, have revealed the Red Devils made it 'abundantly clear' they will not allow the Serie A outfit to grab Smalling on the cheap, citing how valuable he still remains to United due to his homegrown status.
It is understood Roma have offered a fee of Pound 13 million and top-up payments, taking the eventual figure to Pound 18 million, with United demanding almost Pound 10 million more at this stage of the negotiations.
United signed Smalling from Fulham in 2010 for Pound 10 million and the former England international has made it clear to his camp that he does not want to return to Manchester, having proved himself at the Olympic Stadium since arriving last August.
The 30-year-old has enjoyed his own renaissance in the Italian capital and been labelled one of the standout defenders in the league this season, having slipped down the pecking order last year at the Theatre of Dreams.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not want to stand in Smalling's way although there will have to be some significant compromises made before the club's paymasters sign off on any deal.
Roma does not have the first option to buy the player and that only further strengthens the hand of those in Manchester, knowing they can hold out for a while yet to see if any other clubs come forward.
United are trying to build up a healthy transfer fund for Solskjaer to spend in the close season, with the Norwegian understood to have his eye on signing at least one new centre-half.
The Manchester giants earlier this week released disappointing financial figures, which showed their overall cash pile fell by Pound 208.7 million in the six months to December 2019, having spent Pound 187.3 million last summer, so a healthy fee for Smalling would still come in handy.