Manchester United defender Paddy McNair has signed a new contract that will keep him at the club until June 2017, with an option to extend for a further year.

The 19-year-old has risen through the ranks at Old Trafford, after first being discovered by United’s Northern Ireland based scout Tony Coulter. The teenager began his career as a midfielder, but was soon converted to a central defender.

Speaking today at his press conference, manager Louis van Gaal called the Northern Ireland international an integral part of the first team and expressed his pleasure in the player’s decision to remain with the club.

“Paddy has risen through the ranks to become an integral part of the first team squad,” Van Gaal said today. “He has all the attributes to develop into a top player.”

“Promoting youth players is very important both to myself and to the club and I am delighted Paddy has signed a new contract.”

In recent weeks, Van Gaal has hinted that the versatile McNair could be the club’s right-back for the future. The defender was given the starting nod during United’s FA Cup replay against Cambridge United.

“Paddy McNair has developed himself very well, not only as a central defender but now we are giving him the chance to develop as a full-back and he did it very well,” the manager said last week.

“He has done it already in the second team [Under-21s] and he has done it now at a higher level in the first-team. Maybe he shall be the right full-back of Manchester United for the next ten years, you never know. He has the chance.”

But McNair is not thinking about the future. The young defender is focused on the present and is happy to have committed his future to the club he started with as a youth player.

“To make my debut for this great club earlier this season was a dream come true,” McNair said. “I’m pleased to have signed a new contract. I have come through the academy here and I feel I am improving my game all the time with the help of the manager, the coaching staff and my teammates.”

McNair made his debut in United’s 2-1 victory of West Ham back in September. The Northern Ireland defender has made 12 appearances for the Premier League club this season and has quickly become a fan favorite with United supporters.