Chris Smalling has signed a new contract at Manchester United, which will almost certainly end Arsenal’s interest in the former Fulham youngster.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed the defender in January 2010 at a time when the player was also being courted by the Gunners, and it has proven to be a shrewd addition for the Manchester club. Smalling, who only linked up with the Reds the following summer, has now made 142 appearances in all competitions, and has two Premier League title winning medals to show for his efforts.
The 25-year-old was scheduled to become a free agent at the end of next season, and he had recently been linked with a move to Arsenal during the coming window. However, having established himself as a key member of Louis van Gaal’s back four, the England international, who has won 16 caps for his country, has signed a new contract which ties him to United until 2019.
“I’m delighted to sign my new contract,” Smalling told the official club website. “I am so proud to play for such a great club. We have developed as a team over the course of the season and we are now playing as a complete unit. This is a very exciting time to be at Manchester United, we are all determined to get back to where we belong competing at the highest level.”
Smalling has made 20 appearances in the Premier League this season, and has impressed since returning from a suspension he served following his dismissal in the Manchester derby back in November. He has even added goals to his repertoire, scoring the opener in a 3-0 win over Hull City, hitting a decisive brace in a 3-1 triumph against Burnley, and also netting in the 4-2 success over City.
Is Smalling now an integral part of the United back four, or will he likely be kicking his heels on the bench if, as expected, van Gaal can sign a top-class defender in the summer?