Manchester United has successfully tied up a deal Fulham’s 20-year-old central defender Chris Smalling. The confirmed £8 million deal comes as United headed off interest in the player from Arsenal. It is a remarkable rise to the top for the player who joined Fulham in June 2008 from non-league Maidstone United.
“Manchester United has agreed terms for the transfer of Chris Smalling from Fulham,” said a statement on ManUtd.com.
“Chris has agreed personal terms with the club and will join for the beginning of the 2010/2011 campaign. He will remain at Fulham until the end of the current season.”
Sir Alex Ferguson has moved for the Greenwhich-born defender following a reported bid by Arsenal this week. Smalling, who started Fulham’s match against Chelsea this season, has made just nine appearances in the Premier League. But the player’s accelerated development is such that Stuart Pearce called the defender into his England under-21 set-up. Smalling made his under-21 début against Holland as a substitute in August.
The pacy left-sided central defender will offer cover in an area of the pitch that United has struggled to field fit players this season. Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Jonny Evans have all been injured at various times this campaign. However, the deal is likely to increase speculation that Vidic will leave Old Trafford this summer.
United has likely concluded a heavily performance-based deal in the current financial climate, with any cash up-front coming from the club’s new revolving £75 million credit facility.
“I know he spoke to Manchester United yesterday and we all knew they were interested,” Smallings mother, Theresa, told ThisIsKent.
“It’s difficult to take in that he will now be playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“It’s absolutely incredible. I wouldn’t have been surprised had he gone to Arsenal, because I knew of their interest, but United? How far has he come in such a short space of time.”
Talks with the player’s representatives concluded Tuesday afternoon. Smalling will join United for the start of the 2010/11 season.