Central defender Chris Smalling has signed a new four-year deal with Manchester United that will keep him tied to Old Trafford through the summer of 2019, the club has announced.
“Chris has improved and developed immensely during the short time that I have been at the club and has become an integral part of the first team squad,” said manager Louis van Gaal upon the deal’s confirmation.
He’s not lying. Smalling has become an important and versatile part of Manchester United’s back line. He’s beat out Marcos Rojo for a starting spot with his solid play, forcing van Gaal to keep him in the lineup even after Rojo recovered from a shoulder injury.
According to Squawka Statistics, the 25-year-old England international is the Premier League’s 10th-best defender on overall player rating. That is thanks in large part to his attacking threat, with four goals on the season, which is tied with Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic for the lead over all defenders in England’s top flight.
“I’m delighted to sign my new contract,” Smalling said. “I am so proud to play for such a great club. We have developed as a team over the course of the season under Louis van Gaal 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 and competing at the highest level.”
After appearing in just 14 of the club’s first 26 Premier League games of the season, Smalling has started six of United’s last seven and played the full 90 minutes in every one of those starts, conceding just four goals in those six matches and earning three clean sheets.