Despite news breaking yesterday of Craig Gardner undergoing a medical at West Brom, his departure had been expected for some time. Out of contract and consistently linked with a return to his native Midlands, the midfielder has just been unveiled by West Bromwich Albion.
The 27-year-old will officially join the Hawthorns club in July 1, after he signed a three-year contract, with the option of a further year on a free transfer once his contract with Sunderland expires.
Gardner made 100 appearances for Sunderland and found the back of the net 14 times after signing from Birmingham City in the summer of 2011. Despite being a central midfielder by trade, Gardner arguably made the most impact at Sunderland as a makeshift right back, a position where he was consistently better than when he was in midfield.
He will be remembered for some top quality strikes, notably the free-kick at Wigan under Martin O'Neill, the volley into the top corner against Swansea, the equaliser away to Bolton in the FA Cup and the winner in the season's FA Cup tie at home to Southampton.
Gardner was clearly delighted to wrap up his move back to the Midlands;
Absolutely buzzing to finally sign for @WBAFCofficial can't wait to get the season under way now #boingboing #buzzing pic.twitter.com/prlLd2jrGD— Craig Gardner (@CraigGards8) May 20, 2014
As was West Brom's Director of Football Administration Richard Garlick, who told West Brom's official website that they had tried but failed to sign the midfielder in January;
Craig is someone we have followed for a long time and we are delighted to finally get him.
We tried to bring him here in the January transfer window but it did not work out.
We have continued to track him and he has expressed a real desire to be at this club following interest from elsewhere.
He has the flexibility to play in a few positions across the midfield, scores goals, and can slot in at right-back if required.
I think he will bring a freshness to our midfield area and his character will suit our dressing room.
We know we have a big summer ahead of us and it is great to get our first signing done so early.
We wish Craig Gardner all the best in his career with West Brom, where he will team up with former Sunderland fans' favourite Stephane Sessegnon.
Stay tuned to Roker Report throughout the summer as we keep you up to date with this and all other transfer news and rumours. Also, feel free to keep in touch with our dedicated Transfer Centre, which you can do by CLICKING HERE.