Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hopes of boosting transfer funds through sales are set to be hit by the financial impact of coronavirus.
Alexis Sanchez is also on loan at Inter Milan and doesn’t figure in Solskjaer’s plans even though United have been forced to review spending in what was seen as a pivotal transfer window.
While it has long been accepted they would struggle to demand a fee for Sanchez due to his wages of around £450,000-a-week, Smalling and Rojo represented an opportunity to bring in significant funds.
Smalling, in particular, has impressed on loan at AS Roma this season, with the Serie A club keen to keep him in Italy beyond the end of the season.
And Rojo, who saw a loan to Everton blocked last August, has since been allowed to return to his former club Estudiantes.
Neither are in Solskjaer’s thinking, with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof established at the heart of the Norwegian’s defence, while there are high hopes for Axel Tuanzebe and fit-again Eric Bailly.
But with football across the globe counting the cost of Covid-19, United are likely to have to lower their expectations in terms of fees – or even accept extended loan deals.
Rojo was valued in the region of £20million last summer.
The signing of Odion Ighalo is seen as indicative of much of the business that will be done when the window eventually opens.
Solskjaer had set his sights on a top-class striker, with Timo Werner and Moussa Dembele high on his wanted list.
But Ighalo represented a short-term fix, signing the Nigeria international until January and allowing United to focus energy and funds on priority targets like Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish.
Clubs around the world are expected to engage in more loan or swap deals, with insiders suggesting buyers are looking further down wanted lists to fifth or sixth options to find cheaper alternatives.