LEEDS UNITED have swooped to sign their first outfield player of the summer – midfield enforcer Michael Brown.
The 34-year-old, who has a wealth of top-flight experience with the likes of Portsmouth, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, was a free agent having left Pompey at the end of last season.
He has signed a one-year deal with a further year’s option built in.
United, quiet in the transfer market so far this close season, are also reportedly firming up a loan move for Fulham’s Leeds-born custodian David Stockdale – to solve their well-documented first-choice goalkeeping quandary.
Hartlepool-born Brown – who joined up with his new team-mates yesterday in Scotland and could make his debut in tomorrow night’s opening friendly at Falkirk – was a key member of Steve Cotterill’s side in the first half of 2010-11 and was an ever-present.
But he has cooled his heels since Boxing Day, his last appearance for the south coast outfit coming in the 1-1 draw with Millwall. It is believed to be due to a clause in his contract that stipulated a further appearance would trigger fresh terms on his existing wages.
He was then offered a new deal for next season, understood to be on vastly reduced terms, and the club were unwilling to negotiate.
His contract at Fratton Park finished at the end of June and United, badly in need of bite in their engine room, have now sealed their move.
United boss Simon Grayson said: “We’re delighted to finalise things with Michael. He’s a player that I have long been interested in and I’m glad we have been able to sort things out for him to come here.
“He has experience and know-how and he has played at the highest level.
“He fits the bill in terms of the quality of player I was looking to bring in and he will be a great addition to the squad.”
Brown has successfully carved out a ‘second’ career as a midfield ball-winner after springing to prominence as a box-to-box operator and prolific goalscorer at Neil Warnock’s Sheffield United just under a decade ago.
He was linked with a loan switch to Nottingham Forest in February, but the move fell through. The likes of QPR – managed by his one-time Blades mentor Warnock – Middlesbrough and Hull were also rumoured to be in the hunt.
Meanwhile another former Elland Road favourite who was rumoured to be a target for Grayson this summer, midfielder Lee Bowyer, has signed a 12-month deal with Ipswich Town, with the option of a further year.