Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has signed a five-year contract extension at Old Trafford, providing confirmation that Sir Alex Ferguson sees him as the main understudy to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the heart of the United defence.
England Under 21 international Smalling, who has been joined at the club by international colleague Phil Jones, says he had no hesitation in signing a new deal which will keep him at the club until 2016.
"This is a great club and, in the short time I have been here, I have already achieved more than I could have ever expected to," he told ManUtd.com.
"I am looking forward to a long and successful career at Manchester United."
The defender joined United from Fulham in January 2010 following his move from Maidstone United, and the 21-year-old went on to play 34 times for United last season, scoring his only goal in the Carling Cup win over Scunthorpe United.
Sir Alex Ferguson says Smalling has been a great addition to the United squad. "I am delighted Chris has signed a new contract," he said.
"Chris has been outstanding since joining us from Fulham last year, he is an extremely talented young defender, he’s quick, strong and reads the game well, he is a great asset to the team."
Meanwhile, former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, not one for mincing his words, believes United have to make further strides in the transfer market if they're to continue to set the pace in the Barclays Premier League.
Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David De Gea have already joined the ranks at Old Trafford, but the departure of Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves has left a chasm in United's midfielder.
And Neville believes replacements for the departed duo are necessary for the club to continue to progress.“I genuinely believe there will be more signings particularly in the midfield area," Neville said.
"We have lost (Paul) Scholes and (Owen) Hargreaves, so there are two players less in that department.
“The success never stops. The manager will always replace players but never like-for-like, it will always be a different way of things and I think that will happen this time.”
In his 19-year United career, Neville has seen plenty of players come and go at the Theatre of Dreams, but he's keen to praise this summer's new additions.
"Phil Jones could end up being gold for the club," Neville added.
"His age, his attitude, the fact that everyone who speaks about him says he is a solid character, no messing around. I think he could be a future captain. He has got that leadership presence about him.
"As for Ashley Young I see this move as the next step for him in his career. I think he is someone with great potential, great feet, can play on either wing, the right age, and experience of playing for England.
“I’ve not seen much of David de Gea but for the club to sign him at such a young age to replace the great Edwin Van Der Sar shows incredible faith in him. I know the goalkeeping coach Eric Steele is very meticulous and will have done his research on him."
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