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Man Utd seal 10m Smalling deal

last updated Thursday 28th January 2010, 9:35 AM
Fulham defender Chris Smalling
Fulham defender
Chris Smalling
Chris Smalling
Manchester United have won the race to sign 20-year-old Fulham defender Chris Smalling, but the champions were forced to raise their offer to £10million after late interest from Arsenal.

United thought they had agreed an £8m deal for a player who cost Fulham £10,000 from non-league Maidstone 18 months ago and has only started two games in the Barclays Premier League.

But Arsenal's attempt to hijack the deal meant United, in desperate need of defensive reinforcements, had to pay an extra £2m for the England Under 21 man.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson intervened on Monday with a personal phone call to Smalling, who travelled to Manchester for his medical on Wednesday, hours after playing in Fulham's 2-0 defeat at Tottenham.

United's decision to announce the signing before the game at Spurs also added pressure on the player. It was a subtle reminder from Ferguson that he thought they already had an agreement.

The deal gives Fulham a massive profit on Smalling, whose weekly wages will rocket from £5,000 to £25,000. An added bonus for the London club is that he will be allowed to stay at Craven Cottage until the end of the season.

Fulham club captain Danny Murphy, a former Liverpool midfielder, compared Smalling's style to Sami Hyypia and likened his attitude to Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen.

Murphy said: 'The first thing you notice is his great pace and desire. He trains like he plays and wants to win every game.

'You see these players now and again as young lads. I was fortunate enough to see the likes of Owen and Gerrard. Chris is not quite at their level yet but you know when there's a good player coming along.

'He's got wonderful pace which is always a great asset. He's calm on the ball and good in the air. What more do you need for a good centre half?

'For me, he's like a quick Sami Hyypia. Maybe not quite as composed as Sami but that will come in time. Considering what's been going on in the lad's life, he's been cool and calm.

'He's educated. It's been a big few days for him and he's handled it brilliantly. I don't want to build the lad up too much, but he has the potential to be a wonderful player.'

Source Chris Wheeler and Matt Barlow at Daily Mail
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