BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Chris Gunter signed for Charlton Athletic yesterday – with manager Lee Bowyer revealing the defender had been a top target at the start of last season.
The Wales international, 31, has signed a two-year contract with the option of an extra 12 months.
It means Charlton have finally landed a right-back and free agent Adam Matthews, who had still been training with the South Londoners, has now moved on.
Newport-born Gunter is Wales’ most-capped player. He made his 97th appearance in last night’s fixture against England at Wembley.
Gunter has made 429 Championship appearances as well as 25 outings in the Premier League for Tottenham and Reading.
He ended his eight-year association with the Royals when he was released in July.
“We tried really hard to get him last season because he wasn’t really in Reading’s plans,” said Bowyer. “But we just couldn’t afford him.
“Now that’s changed. It’s a good signing. It’s another experienced player we’ve got through the door. I’m over the moon with the signing. He’s going to bring a lot of experience, energy and calmness.
“He’s a very good defender, but more importantly he is very good going forward. The way we like to play, and the way we’re going to play, he is going to bring a lot in the final third.”
Wales’ Covid-19 protocols meant it was not easy for Charlton to announce the deal until Ryan Giggs’ squad headed to the capital.
“Steve [Gallen, director of football] had to travel to Wales to get him to sign,” said Bowyer. “And then because he was in their bubble it meant the photos and stuff like that had to be delayed a little.
“But, most importantly, he is our player. I hope he gets some minutes into him while he is away and he gets that 97th cap. But he is a naturally fit player. Speaking to him, it sounds like he’ll be able to go straight in if we need him to.
“Hopefully now, like all the Welsh boys who have come to us, he can start pushing back in and around the starting 11. He is a naturally fit player.”
Charlton saw a move for FC Midtjylland’s Ronnie Schwartz fail to come to fruition before Monday night’s deadline for international transfers.
The Addicks were ready to pay a fee for the 31-year-old forward, who scored 18 goals in the Danish Super League last season.
A deal had been on and off for Schwartz, capped at U21 level, but looked to be a goer as the hours ticked down to the 11pm cut off.
Despite new Charlton owner Thomas Sandgaard’s own attempts to push the deal over the line for his countryman it failed to happen.
The Addicks were also interested in Leeds midfielder Mateusz Bogusz, who joined Spanish side UD Logrones on loan.
Bowyer still wants another five signings before next Friday’s closure of the domestic window.
“We have to bring three more loans in and a striker,” he said. “I’m looking to probably get another five.
“It’s so important that we get a striker through the door because we’re very, very short in that department.”
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