JACK Baldwin’s dramatic deadline day transfer to Peterborough United could be worth up to £750,000 to Hartlepool United.
Baldwin has signed a four-and-a-half year contract at London Road after the defensive lynchpin travelled south yesterday afternoon to complete the paperwork before the 11pm deadline.
The deal, for an initial £500,000 with the potential for add-ons, came as a shock with the switch to the League One side confirmed just minutes before the transfer window slammed shut.
The 20-year-old central defender was in his third season at Pools and has been a regular at the back for Colin Cooper’s Sky Bet League Two side this season.
Indeed, he has been one of the star performers alongside on-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess.
Scouts have been flocking to Victoria Park all season to cast an eye over Baldwin, who is also comfortable in midfield, with neighbours Sunderland believed to be the frontrunners for his signature.
Premier League side Stoke City and several Championship clubs were also said to be monitoring the progress of Baldwin.
But Darren Ferguson’s Peterborough moved first for the highly-rated Essex boy their number one transfer window target.
Pools boss Cooper, who had said after the 2-0 win over York City that he’d hoped to keep his squad intact, said Posh made their initial approach earlier this week.
It leaves Pools with just two first-team central defenders, Burgess and veteran Sam Collins, although full-back Neil Austin has played there before.
Cooper revealed Pools didn’t want to sell but said Baldwin had made it clear he was interested and the club went about getting the best possible deal.
Cooper said: “We didn’t want to sell Jack but when the approach was made by Peterborough earlier this week he made it clear that it was an opportunity he was interested in.
“We have spent time trying to encourage him to stay but once his mind was made up to progress his career in League One, our job was to get the best possible deal for Hartlepool United.
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“I spoke about it with the Chairman and the Chief Executive and we all agreed that the deal we’ve been able to finalise after several days of negotiation was in the best financial and beneficial interests of the football club and the player,” Cooper told the club’s website.
Cooper has admired Baldwin since he walked through the manager’s door in the summer, describing him as “outstanding” and “oozing class” in recent months.
This week he told SportMail: “He may only look wiry, but when Jack tackles there are few I’ve seen better.
“I like the way he tackles, he puts his whole body behind it.”
The Pools boss had captured the signatures of striker Marlon Harewood and forwards Luke Williams, on loan from Middlesbrough, and Manchester United’s Jack Barmby, also on loan, this transfer window.
But there was no time last night to bring in any permanent defensive cover, although the loan window remains an option for Pools.
A club spokesman added: “The club would like to thank Jack for his full commitment during his time at Victoria Park and wish him and his family all the very best for his future career.”
Baldwin signed his first professional contract with Pools in the summer of 2011 after impressing during a pre-season trial from non-league side Faversham Town.
Since then, the impressive and versatile youngster has gone on to make 85 appearances for Pools, scoring six goals, and has been an ever-present during the current League Two campaign.