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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Shawcross poised to sign six-year deal

Stoke City defender Ryan Shawcross is expected to sign a six-year contract this week after agreeing to remain at the Britannia Stadium.

Shawcross, 25, who came on as a substitute in England's 4-2 friendly defeat in Sweden, has spent the last three weeks in negotiations over the longest contract Stoke have ever offered.

Speculation had linked him with a move to Spurs or his former club Manchester United, but Stoke chairman Peter Coates made it clear that he intended to retain the services of his club's biggest assets.

Shawcross, signed from Manchester United, has been an integral part of Stoke's success in establishing themselves in the top flight, and he said: "I am very happy here and very settled here.

"I have loved my five years here so far and I want that to continue. We have progressed incredibly from when I first came.

"The people here have looked after me really well, the fans have been brilliant with me and I want to be a part of the future."

Shawcross has played more than 200 times for Stoke since arriving on loan from Manchester United in August 2007 and making the move permanent for £2 million in January 2008.

His contract was due to expire in summer 2014, and manager Tony Pulis said he was delighted that a new deal was in the offing.

"Ryan has been immense for us. I took him from Manchester United's third team and I remember him scoring on his debut at Cardiff - and he's improved ever since," he said.

"Ryan has done brilliantly for us, but the club has also done brilliantly for him as well. We are more than happy to give Ryan that length of contract."

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