Walton completes permanent move to Ipswich Town
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town have completed the permanent signing of loanee goalkeeper Christian Walton from Brighton & Hove Albion.
The 26-year-old, who has impressed during the first half of the season after making the temporary move from the Seagulls in the summer, has signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the Blues. The deal also includes a 12-month extension option.
Town have paid a small fee to Brighton in order to help facilitate his move to Portman Road, with the goalkeeper back in Suffolk since Monday to tie up the loose ends in order to complete the move, prior to today's announcement. He can now resume training with the Blues, after a number of paperwork issues delayed the deal's completion.
There had been fears Town were set to lose their starting goalkeeper, after Brighton activated a recall clause in the original loan agreement, but after a week of talks between the two clubs the deal has been completed.
Walton did draw some interest from Championship clubs, notably from Luton Town and Cardiff City, but the Blues were always the most firm in their approach and led the way throughout negotiations surrounding Walton's next move.
The Blues' start to life under new boss Kieran McKenna was a major reason in convincing the stopper to drop from the Premier League to League One, at a time when his sizeable top flight contract with Brighton still had six months to run.
The presence of Rene Gilmartin, Ipswich's newly-appointed goalkeeping coach, is also said to be a major factor, given he and Walton were at Plymouth Argyle together during the Town keeper's formative years.
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Walton is also known to have a strong desire to play regular football, having failed to break into Brighton's first-team during his nine years at the club, which has also seen him loaned out on eight separate occasions.
A permanent move to Ipswich gives him the opportunity to lay down some roots as he approaches the peak years of his career.
Walton made 18 appearances for Town during his loan spell, with the first game following his permanent move coming against Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
After completing his move, the goalkeeper said: “It's been a long process so to have it done now is brilliant.
"I was in my final year of the contract with Brighton, and they allowed me to go and play regular football which is what I wanted and needed. Now, having enjoyed my time here, I have a long-term future at the club.
"Initially joining a club like Ipswich was a no-brainer, and now I want to stay at a club that has aspirations to go places. I want to play my part.
"I've had it in my mind that I wanted to stay here, so now I am buzzing it has been sorted."
Manager McKenna said: “We’re delighted Christian has signed on a permanent deal.
“He has lots of qualities and a big presence. He has proved to be a key player for us.
“Making this move shows Christian’s appetite to achieve things here as well. He is someone with an excellent attitude and work ethic, and everyone is really pleased he has committed his future to the football club.
“He’ll continue to work closely with Rene Gilmartin, who has a blossoming relationship with the goalkeepers, and we all look forward to seeing him develop as he enters his prime years as a ‘keeper.”
CEO Mark Ashton added: "It's great news for the club that Christian will be staying at Portman Road.
"Christian is a model professional who is hungry to achieve success with Ipswich Town, and we are delighted to have him on board on a permanent basis."
Brighton head coach Graham Potter said: “Christian has been a pleasure to work with during my time at the club, but this move gives him the opportunity to settle down and make a home for himself at a good club. We wish him all the best for his future.”