Bolton Wanderers have signed Middlesbrough defender David Wheater for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £2.3 million with £1.5 million in add-ons.
• Transfer blog
Wheater was a highly-rated young centre back when he broke into the Boro first team on a regular basis in the 2007-08 Premier League campaign and it was thought he would be signed by a top-flight club when they went down the following season.
The 23-year-old stayed with Boro as they attempted to bounce back from the Championship, but with the club languishing just above the relegation zone they have opted to cash in on the player. He made 157 appearances for the Teesside club, scoring 11 goals.
Wheater has signed a deal with Bolton which runs through to the summer of 2014, but the news is sure to lead to further speculation over the future of fellow central defender Gary Cahill, who has been linked with Arsenal throughout the transfer window.
Wheater will be available to make his debut in the game against Chelsea on Monday evening.
Bolton boss Owen Coyle said: ''First and foremost we are absolutely delighted to get a player of David's quality into Bolton. The hunger that he has shown in wanting to come to the football club has been first class.
''There has been a lot of competition for his signature and again this shows a willingness on our behalf to invest in young players. The club have parted with good money to secure the services of a very talented player who has been involved with England squads before.
''We want him to be involved at that level again and to do that he will have to play well for Bolton Wanderers, however he has arrived here with a real desire to achieve that. He has a great character as well. He will integrate into the group straight away and it all adds to the fantastic spirit that we have within the squad.''
Wheater added: ''I met with the manager and we had a good chat about football. I had a look around the facilities and it was a really easy decision to make.
''From what I've seen there is a really great atmosphere at the club and a real buzz about the place and I'm looking forward to working hard and showing the manager what I can do.''
Wheater said Middlesbrough will always remain close to his heart.
"The supporters have been brilliant with me,'' he told the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette. "I think they understand why I had to leave to further my career and they also know that the club would benefit financially, the money will help the manager strengthen the team.
"It was always going to be hard to leave. I've been at Boro since I was 10 years old, and all my family and friends are up here. It's been one of the toughest decisions of my life.
"Football is my job and you have to do what's best for your career. Tony Mowbray wished me all the best. Since day one when he arrived we have had a special bond and I believe he will be a success.''