Boro go back in for centre-back and outbid rivals to secure £3.5m transfer

Matt Clarke Brighton August 2022

Middlesbrough have re-entered the race to sign Brighton and Hove Albion defender Matt Clarke and have agreed a £3.5m fee, according to TEAMtalk sources.

Boro have proposed a three-year contract for the 25-year-old after outbidding their rivals for the central defender. It looked as though the former Portsmouth defender was set to slip through the grasp of the Teessiders earlier on Tuesday.

Stoke City looked to be in pole position to sign Clarke after talks with Boro broke down. But Chris Wilder’s side moved quickly to get negotiations back on track and the player is now heading north.

Clarke is set to undergo a medical at Rockliffe this afternoon with Wilder looking to slot him into a back three with fellow new signing Darragh Lenihan.

The Telegraph’s John Percy claimed the fee was £2.25m, but our sources report the deal could hit £3.5m including add-ons.

Clarke, who was on loan at West Brom last season, has entered the final 12 months of his contract at the Amex Stadium. And rather than lose him for free next summer, Brighton have opted to sell with a number of Championship clubs keen.

After three years on the south coast Clarke has yet to make a Premier League appearance for Brighton. He spent two seasons on loan with Derby before featuring heavily for WBA last term.

Matt Clarke to provide balance

Boro have been in the market for a left-sided centre-back all summer. Hull City’s Jacob Greaves was thought to be an option, but he penned a new deal in Yorkshire last week.

Wilder said he was looking forward to injecting some more new blood into a squad which has started the season poorly.

Boro remain winless after five games and were beaten 1-0 at Reading last time out. But Brazilian striker Rodrigo Muniz has since arrived and Clarke is set to follow him to the Riverside.

 “We were too nice against Reading, with a soft underbelly and a soft touch. Even at the end, we have an opportunity to throw it into the box and we don’t,” said Wilder.

“We now have a big week ahead of us. Muniz is coming in and he’ll no doubt want to get on the front foot and that will shake it up. And maybe one or two others will shake it up for us as well. No excuses for us today, but maybe getting two players in for next week will really shake it up.”