Leeds starlet Walton completes move to Charlton
Charlton manager Iain Dowie has challenged 18-year-old Simon Walton to play his way into the first-team after securing a £1million move from Leeds.
Walton has become Dowie's first buy since his Addicks appointment, and the Elland Road academy graduate is ready to 'surprise a few people' according to the former Crystal Palace boss.
Capable of playing in central defence or midfield, Walton found his opportunities limited last season as Leeds reached the Coca-Cola Championship play-off final but missed out on promotion.
He made just five league appearances, but in the 2004-05 campaign played more often and was regarded as a good prospect by the West Yorkshire club.
'Simon is a talented boy and he might surprise a few people,' said Dowie. 'He's very competitive, a very strong runner in terms of power and a great athlete who is very comfortable on the ball.
'We think he's a very good investment for the future, but looking at his attributes he's a lad capable of playing in the Premiership sooner rather than later as well.'
Walton has signed a four-year deal, and although the initial fee was undisclosed, the club revealed it could become a seven-figure transfer depending on the youngster's success.
After being made aware of Charlton's interest, Walton needed little persuading to leave Leeds.
'I had a year left of my contract and was aiming for a good season with Leeds, but when this offer came out of the blue I knew it was too good to turn down,' he said.
Meanwhile, promising Charlton winger Lloyd Sam has signed a new four-year contract.
The 21-year-old, who broke his foot last season, made just three first-team appearances, has impressed Dowie and is now tied to The Valley until 2010.
Sam said: 'I thought the change of manager might bring about some complications but it hasn't and I think the fact that the new coach has given me a new deal after only a few weeks in the job shows a lot of faith in me.'
Reflecting on a positive day of negotiations, Dowie told the club's official website: 'We're delighted to sign Simon and that Lloyd has signed a new deal.
'We believe they are both exciting prospects. It's part of a dual approach; we're looking at established talent but also youth talent we can develop and if you can dovetail those two then that's good for the future of the club.
'We have got great hopes for Lloyd. He is a very exciting talent, a great lad and very bubbly around the place; he's always got a bright smile on his face and I've certainly enjoyed working with him in the last three or four days.
'I was very keen to get the contract signed, as was everyone at the club, and he's one for the present as well as the future.'
'He is a first-team player on merit and he's going to push for a starting place.'