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Red Devils defender Ritchie De Laet signs new deal

Ritchie De Laet has been rewarded with a new contract at Manchester United that ties him to the club until 2012.

De Laet, 20, was a surprise signing for the club when arriving from Stoke City in January and has made two appearances for the first team at Old Trafford, most recently as a substitute in the 1-0 Carling Cup victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers last month.

De Laet appears to have impressed Sir Alex Ferguson and with a loan exit firmly ruled out, the Belgian defender has extended his contract at Old Trafford.

"Alex Ferguson told me I'm very close to the first team," De Laet told the Sun. "There has been talk of me going out on loan but Sir Alex said I can't leave as he may need me. The new contract is a surprise and fantastic news."

De Laet never donned a first-team shirt for Stoke City but made three appearances during a loan spell with Wrexham at the end of 2008.

It is also reported that United forward Danny Welbeck is close to signing a new contract after some encouraging performances for the first team.

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