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Chris Smalling ignoring rumours of Manchester United exit

MANCHESTER -- Chris Smalling says he is ignoring any talk that he could leave Manchester United this summer.

The defender has seen Jose Mourinho sign centre-backs Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof since taking over as manager for a combined £60 million, prompting speculation Smalling could leave Old Trafford, with Arsenal one of the clubs reported to be interested.

Despite bolstering his back line, Mourinho has continued to pick Smalling, who is behind only Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and David De Gea in the list of appearance-makers this season.

And the 28-year-old insists he is only interested in his manager's opinion.

"I think it helps by the fact that we have such a busy schedule," Smalling told ESPN FC ahead of the FA Cup semifinal with Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday.

"More often than not we're playing every two or three days and pretty much all your focus is just put on training, put on games and listening to the manager and what he wants you to do.

"Obviously, you can't get away from certain noise, but it's a case of I am so focused on the pitch that I just want to keep putting on performances and keep building that manager's trust in me to play me every game."

Mourinho is the fourth manager Smalling has worked with at United after spells under Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

Chris Smalling has been linked with a move away from Man United.

The 55-year-old has, at times, cut a frustrated figure at Old Trafford. But Smalling insists the players see a different side.

"I think we see we all sides," he said. "I think there can be times when he's very serious and on the pitch I think you need to be serious.

"And then there's a case where he can joke around as well, so I think it's getting that fine balance and I think all top managers have to have that fine balance because it's not easy managing 20-odd players.

"You've got to be able to have a laugh and a joke, and also get serious when the time comes. He's a joy to work with."

Smalling has played a key role in helping United record the second-best defensive record in the Premier League this season.

He has also scored three goals in his last three games away from Old Trafford, including the opener in the 2-0 win over Bournemouth on Wednesday.

"The manager is happy," he said. "I think we're happy as a group. It's the group, the attackers start off the defending. As a group we have tended to have a good defensive record.

"We are very proud of that and this year and last year we have added more goals to it. As a team we are working more efficiently at both ends of the pitch."

Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.


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