Manchester United confirm Smalling signing
Manchester United have completed the signing of Fulham defender Chris Smalling. The 20-year-old will join them for the start of next season, meaning he will play out the remainder of the current campaign at Craven Cottage.
Smalling has enjoyed a rapid rise to the top after playing for Maidstone until 2008 before joining Fulham and being made captain of their development squad. Since then he has only made two Premier League starts but is clearly a very highly rated young player.
In fact, it is being reported that Manchester United are paying around £7m to secure his services, so it is clear how much Sir Alex Ferguson rates him. Arsenal were interested in the player too, but had their bid turned down by Fulham.
As for Smalling’s two Premier League starts, they haven’t exactly been the most successful for him. On the 28th December at Chelsea, he scored an own goal in a 2-1 defeat and on Tuesday night in the 2-0 reverse at Tottenham, he was partly at fault for Peter Crouch’s opening goal.
However, Ferguson wouldn’t have brought him unless there was something special about him and there is no doubt that he has impressed during his handful of appearances for England’s Under-21 side.
The signing has increased speculation over Nemanja Vidic’s future at Old Trafford though. The central-defender has been linked with a move to Real Madrid this summer and some have suggested that Smalling is seen as a replacement for the Serbian.
More positive Manchester United fans will simply see Smalling as a long-term investment though as Ferguson looks after the best interests of the club. As for the player, he will be hoping to gain valuable experience for Fulham until the end of the season before making the big move to Manchester.
Meanwhile, Fulham will are preparing for the return on European football although the odds Europa League bookmakers are offering suggest they will not progress much further in the competition.
The club might also have one eye on domestic success, although it’s doubtful that anyone with an FA Cup free bet would back Fulham to lift the famous trophy.