MK Dons have completed the signing of Cambridge United defender Harry Darling for an undisclosed fee.
Darling, 21, arrives at Stadium MK as one of the most exciting young central defenders in the EFL.
Since making his professional debut as a 17-year-old in October 2016, Darling has amassed 73 senior appearances, with 20 of those coming this season for a U’s side that currently sit top of the Sky Bet League Two table.
“As soon as I heard about the move here I wanted to get it done,” Darling said in his first interview with iFollow MK Dons. “This is a great club and I’m excited to get going.
“Russ has shown full confidence in me. The way he wants to play football suits me down to the ground. I see myself as a ball-playing centre-back, but one who prides himself on keeping clean sheets too.
“I’m an ambitious person and I think this Club suits me in that aspect. I just can’t wait to meet my teammates and get started.”
A product of the Cambridge Academy, Darling joined the U’s as a 12-year-old but was let go as a youngster and spent time with Newmarket Town. He soon returned to Cambridge and signed a three-year professional deal with the Club in October 2016.
He made his professional debut a month later, as a substitute in an EFL Trophy tie with Scunthorpe United. He then joined enjoyed a short loan spell with National League South side Bishops Stortford.
His had further loan spells at Hampton & Richmond, East Thurrock and Royston during the 2017/18 campaign, but it was the following season that he began establishing himself as a regular in the U’s line-up - playing 17 games in total.
Darling scored his first professional goal at the start of the 2019/20 season – a stunning overhead kick to secure a 2-1 victory away at Colchester United. He would add one more goal to his name that campaign, while also featuring 30 times and surpassing the 50 appearance mark for Cambridge United.
This season, he has been a virtual ever present for the U’s, helping them reach the summit of the Sky Bet League Two table prior to this move to Stadium MK.
Manager Russell Martin said: “Harry is a player we have been keeping tabs on for some time. We’ve watched a lot of him, particularly in the last few months and he’s been our number one target at this position.
“It’s an important position with the way we want to play and we’ve been able to go and get one of the best central defenders in League Two and one of the best young talents at this level.
“We were looking towards the summer as a time to bring him in but, with Richard leaving, it sped that process up. The Chairman, Andy and Liam have worked very hard to get this deal done.
“It’s a significant deal for the Football Club and it’s an important signing for us, short term and in the long term as well. We’re delighted to get it over the line.”