Luke Ayling signs for Middlesbrough and becomes first summer signing after successful loan

Luke Ayling has completed his permanent move to Middlesbrough, becoming the club's first summer signing.

Off the back of a successful loan spell in the second half of last term, Ayling has joined Boro on a free transfer after his Leeds United contract came to an end this summer. The 32-year-old right-back has signed a two-year contract at the Riverside.

Ayling was the subject of interest from other Championship clubs after impressing during his five-month loan spell at Boro. But having enjoyed his time on Teesside and connected with his new team-mates and the Boro supporters, he made clear his desire to remain at Boro.

Michael Carrick said: “We’re delighted that Luke is staying with us. After coming in on loan in January, he settled in very quickly and made a big impact, bringing his character and personality to the group. He knows what it takes to be a success in this league. The club has got under his skin and the supporters have really taken to him as well, so it’s great to have him on board permanently.”

Both Ayling and boss Michael Carrick confirmed that talks were talking place after the final game of the season, with Ayling even calling a deal close. But with Leeds participating in the play-off final - a game they lost to Southampton - Boro had to wait for the Whites to release their retained list, confirming Ayling as a free agent this summer.

In total, having played so little at Leeds in the first half of the season, Ayling made 19 Boro appearances last season. Initially working to build his sharpness and make connections with team-mates, he eventually found form and produced eight assists in his final 11 games of the season. The only Boro game he missed was the defeat to his parent club which he was ineligible for. It was also the only game Boro lost in their final 12 games.

Reflecting on his time at Boro after the final-day victory over Watford, Ayling had told BBC Tees: "I’m really excited about what the future holds.The last four months, I’ve loved being out there. It’s a great bunch of lads and I’ve loved being a part of it. It’s a young group, but that’s allowed me to come in and put my stamp on it. I’ve loved every moment of it.

"I was a little bit nervous when I first came because it had been a few months since I played. But from the first training session, the boys just took to me and I’ve loved every minute of it. We’ve fallen short of the play-offs this year, but it makes things exciting for next year because we’ve come so close. If we can keep our key players fit next year then I’m sure we’ll be up there.”

Ayling becomes Boro's first summer signing in what is expected to be a more focused summer in comparison to last when there were 12 new arrivals. The club are hoping to add a central midfielder, attacking midfielder/forward and striker to complement the arrival of Ayling.

In terms of the announcement, Boro set up advertising billboards in Middlesbrough with a silhouette of the loan star asking, 'Like our BILLboard?' in reference to the defender's nickname.