MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 03: Chris Smalling looks on during a training session ahead of their UEFA Champions League semi final second leg match against Schalke 04 at the Carrington Training Ground on May 3, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Manchester United center-back Chris Smalling has been rewarded with a new five-year contract after a stellar debut season at Old Trafford. The 21-year-old, who was brought over from Fulham last summer in a deal believed to be in the region of £8 million, deputised admirably for Rio Ferdinand when he went down for a few months with a calf injury. Smalling showed similar traits to the man he deputised for - mainly his coolness in defending and calmness on the ball - it is because of this that the U-21 England international is seen as the natural successor to Ferdinand. Javier 'Chicharitio' Hernandez is the buy from the past summer that is often praised, and rightfully so, but United likely would not have won title number 19 if it were not for Smalling's terrific form through the winter. The deal not only rewards Smalling for exceeding expectations last season, but it also makes it much more expensive for any other clubs that come sniffing near Old Trafford in search of a quality center-back.
Here is a quote from manager Sir Alex Ferguson in regards to Smalling and his new deal:
"I am delighted Chris has signed a new contract. Chris has been outstanding since joining us from Fulham last year. He is an extremely talented young defender. He is quick, strong and reads the game well. He is a great asset to the team."
A quote from Smalling after the jump...
"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. I am looking forward to a long and successful career at Manchester United"