Baggies buy Wales defender James Chester for £8m from Hull City


Wales international defender James Chester has made a return to the Premier League, after being relegated last term with Hull City, by signing for Coral’s 10/3 top 10 finish chances West Bromwich Albion for a reported £8m fee.

A graduate of Manchester United’s academy, the 26-year-old has penned a four-year contract at The Hawthorns and becomes the second summer signing for Baggies boss Tony Pulis following Republic of Ireland winger James McClean.

“James did very well for Hull City,” said Pulis. “I’ve had a good chat with him and he’s the type of player I like. He’s young, a strong character, a good defender, he has good feet and he has the Manchester United stamp all over him, just like (Stoke City’s) Ryan Shawcross and Darren Fletcher.

“From the people I spoke to, like Steve Bruce and people in the Welsh party, they speak very highly of him.Steve especially gave him a great mention and there is no better accolade than Steve Bruce giving a defender a good drum roll. James is a good player who can play anywhere along the back line and I’m confident he will get better with age.“

West Midlands club Albion are also set to sign former Wolves attacker Bakary Sako on a free transfer and hold rumoured interested in out of favour Liverpool frontman Rickie Lambert. Ex-Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby will not be joining them on a pay-as-you-play deal, however, as he has opted for a return to his native France with Marseille.

Warrington-born Chester, who will wear number four at The Hawthorns and has six caps for the country of his mother, established himself on Wales’ radar after solid displays in Hull’s promotion campaign back in 2012/13 and played international football for the first time the following year.

Dragons coach Chris Coleman had a generation gap to fill with Danny Gabbidon coming to the end of his career. Chester managed to displace fellow long-serving international James Collins for the Euro 2016 qualifiers, playing alongside skipper Ashley Williams in the heart of Wales’ defence.

Three of West Brom’s existing four senior centre back options in Joleon Lescott, Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson are aged 32 or over, so capturing Chester, who had one year left on his deal at the KC Stadium, allows Pulis to relieve ageing legs in his rearguard.

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