Middlesbrough fend off Premier League interest to land 16-year-old centre-back Harley Hunt

Middlesbrough have beaten significant Premier League clubs to sign 16-year-old centre-back Harley Hunt from Swindon Town.

The 6ft 3in centre-back joins the Boro academy and will be eligible to sign his first professional contract once he turns 17. A compensation package was agreed with the League Two club and is understood to be an initial feel of £500k that could potentially rise by another £1 million based on performance-related add-ons.

Hunt has attracted plenty of interest since impressing for Swindon's under-18s during their run to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup last season. Their progress included victories over Manchester United and Sunderland and Hunt's form earned him a first-team call-up as he impressed in the final three games of their League Two campaign.

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Aston Villa and Southampton have previously been credited with interest in the ball-playing defender but Teesside Live has learned that Brentford, Wolves, and Manchester City have all spent time scouting him too, in a mark of highly rated he is.

Initially linking up with Boro's academy squads, Boro coaches will be following his progress closely as he looks to grow under the coaches at Rockliffe. Speaking while still at Swindon, he noted how much being part of their first-team squad had aided his growth.

He said: “It is a big difference playing first-team football because there is so much more to be switched on to, there is so much more to do, and loads of information to give. It is much better for me and my career because I have been there and done under-18s football, so now to come into first-team football I am learning a lot and that is going to help me a lot.

“One of my biggest things [at the start of the season] was to try and kick on with the first team and make my debut, so now that has happened I just have to keep going.”