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Fulham snatch youngster from under Manchester United's nose

Sixteen year old can play at centre back, full back or in defensive midfield

Friedemann Vogel

Fulham have held off Manchester United in the pursuit of Irish youngster Noe Baba, who is tipped to be a potentially vital player for both club and country.

The 16 year-old, originally born in Cameroon, decided on Fulham as opposed to possible moves to either United, Sunderland or Celtic, citing the Grade One academy at Motspur Park as a motivating factor in his decision.

Baba, in particular, was impressed with Fulham's quartet of Malcolm Elias, Steve Wigley, Huw Jennings and Stewart Henderson, all of whom work behind the scenes at developing the younger players in Fulham's squad.

Recent successes the youth setup can claim include Chris Smalling, Matthew Briggs and Kerim Frei.

Baba, a defender by trade, will arrive in January at a cost of around £130,000, from current club, Castlebar Celtic.

According to the Daily Mail, a medical has already been passed and a contract agreed, but, having only turned 16 in August, he isn't expected to rock the boat in Fulham's backline any time in the near future.

That's not to say he comes without pedigree, though. He's versatile, capable of playing at centre back, full back or in defensive midfield and has already captained Ireland's Under 17 squad., having moved there with his family at a younger age.