Smalling would welcome added United competition

Rumours that Manchester United are in the hunt for a new centre-back are of no concern to Chris Smalling.

Chris Smalling would relish the challenge of added competition at Manchester United as rumours persist of the club making a move for Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos.

La Liga giants Real have long been linked with United goalkeeper David de Gea, but rumours suggest that manager Louis van Gaal is only willing to sell if Ramos is allowed to come to Old Trafford.

Ramos is regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world, having won every major honour with Real Madrid as well as the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.

Smalling would have no qualms should United bolster their defensive options, stating that it would only help improve his own game.

"There is always competition at Manchester United," Smalling said. "When I signed there were five centre-backs already here.

"I had to work hard to get past them. At this club you are always going to be compared with the best and you always play with the best."

Smalling, who was mistakenly referred to as Mike by Van Gaal at a news conference ahead of the International Champions Cup fixture against San Jose Earthquakes, impressed during his 25 Premier League appearances last term.

The England international still believes he has room for improvement though.

"I hope my performances keep me in the team," he added. "Once you set a benchmark it is matter of aiming higher. You cannot afford to drop them.

"I want to make a good start to the season. After that it will just be a question of kicking on."