Manchester United defender Chris Smalling needs to leave Old Trafford in order enhance his chances of being included in England's World Cup squad, according to Paul Parker. Smalling, 27, is not held in the highest esteem by Jose Mourinho and reportedly courted interest from West Ham United and Everton earlier this summer.
Smalling started in Manchester United's UEFA Super Cup loss to Real Madrid on Tuesday (8 August) but only featured in 18 Premier League matches under Mourinho last season and is expected to be behind Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof in the Old Trafford pecking order during the current campaign.
Parker, who enjoyed a five-year stint at Manchester United between 1991 and 1996, is aware of how difficult it may be for Smalling to leave Old Trafford but believes he must do so if he hopes to start for the Three Lions in Russia next year, though Mourinho may only let the former Fulham defender leave if one of United's youth prospects prove to be worthy of a place in his squad.
"Chris has won a few things and has enjoyed his time in Manchester so he's going to find it very difficult to move on," Parker said, speaking exclusively to 888sport. "But he wants to play for his country and there is a World Cup coming up and even if he was picked he wouldn't be prepared for it because he might not have played enough club football.
"Having said that even as a fourth choice centre-half you look at the injuries they have and Mourinho might say 'you've going nowhere unless I get someone else in'. If Jose Mourinho thinks that the young players coming through – who did so well at the back-end of last season – are good enough then Smalling wouldn't be too expensive and it makes sense.
"That's what Manchester United used to do under Sir Alex Ferguson: if a youngster was ready then established players were replaced."
Everton manager Ronald Koeman has made no secret of his desire to sign a new central defender this summer, but he is looking for left-footed centre-half to provide balance to his backline and cover for Leighton Baines.
Smalling is primarily right-footed but he would presumably not take long to settle if he did join Everton, with former Manchester United teammates Wayne Rooney and Morgan Schneiderlin having already taken the short trip up the M62 this year.
West Ham may decide to scour the transfer market for a new centre-back with Jose Fonte failing to impress and James Collins set to turn 34, but Slaven Bilic's men seem to more interested in bolstering their midfield.
Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho has been linked with a move to West Ham in recent weeks, with much depending on whether the Portuguese outfit make it into the Champions League group stage.
Read the full 888sport interview with Paul Parker, including his thoughts on why Mourinho has to deliver this season.