United pipped to Irish wonderkid Baba as Fulham pull off major coup
17:55 GMT, 14 November 2012
Fulham have won the race to sign Irish teenage sensation Noe Baba ahead of competition from Manchester United, Sunderland and Celtic.
The 16-year-old defender opted for the London club after being convinced their recruitment and academy set-up would give him a better platform to progress.
United headed a list of 16 clubs chasing the Cameroon-born kid who plays for Castlebar Celtic in County Mayo, but the presence of Fulham's Malcolm Elias, Steve Wigley, Huw Jennings and Stewart Henderson swayed his mind.
Can't say Noe: Young Irishman Noe Baba (No 2) has chosen Fulham over Manchester United
The quartet were key figures at Southampton in the production and development of players such as Wayne Bridge, Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain.
Although they went on to separate jobs they reunited at Craven Cottage this summer and their reputation is growing once again.
Fulham will formalise details on Thursday and Baba, who has already passed a medical and agreed a contract, will join from January for a fee of around 130,000.
Baba, who only turned 16 in August, was born in Cameroon and moved to Ireland with his family where he became the first African to captain an Irish age-group team when he led the Under 17s.
He was called into the Republic of Ireland Under 19 squad in October and can play centre-back, defensive midfield or full-back.