chris smallingManchester United have won the race to sign Fulham defender, Chris Smalling.

The 20-year-old defender is believed to be worth in the region on £7m and will move to United in the summer, seeing out the rest of the season in the capital.

A club spokesperson said: “Manchester United has agreed terms for the transfer of Chris Smalling from Fulham. Chris has agreed personal terms with the club and will join for the beginning of the 2010/2011 campaign. He will remain at Fulham until the end of the current season.”

Arsenal were amongst the clubs keen on signing him, although Wenger claimed on Friday that there was no truth to the rumours. He confessed today that they were intersted though and were trying hard to get him to sign for Arsenal.

“As long as the player has not signed anywhere it is not the end of it,” Wenger said earlier on today. “Let’s see what happens there. We will not come out on what we are doing exactly but as you [reporters] say it has come out on television but that doesn’t mean it is true. So let’s see. If we have anything more to tell you we will let you know.”

United had a bid for the player accepted this afternoon and the signing has been made official earlier this evening, according to Sky Sports.

Smalling has risen quickly to be where he is now, playing for Maidstone United’s youth team in the Ryman Youth League at the start of the 07-08 season.

After graduating to the first team, Gareth Southgate wined and dined Smalling in the North East in a bid to get him to join Middlesbrough, but a letter he wrote to Fulham, asking them for a trial, saw Chris offered the chance to sign for the Premiership team. He was given a go in a Fulham Reserves game before after 15 minutes, the onlooking Roy Hodgson declared he had seen enough to offer him a professional contract.

Interestingly, Hodgson rejected the chance to sign free agent Sol Campbell, who has just been welcomed back at Arsenal in their 3-1 defeat against Stoke, because he didn’t want to block the path of Smalling.

“He was offered to us, of course, when he was thinking of leaving Portsmouth, like every other club I imagine,” said Hodgson. “But we’ve got a player here called Chris Smalling, who is 19 years of age and is a current England Under 21 international. I think he’s got a very bright future.”

The 6′ 4″ defender made his England U20 début last April, before making his U21 début in August when he was still 19-years-old.

But he wasn’t always pencilled in for being an England international. Whilst playing for non-League Maidstone, Smalling was narrowing down his options for university, where he planned to take on a Business and Management degree.