ONLY a couple of years ago Luke Thomas was said to be interesting Gareth Southgate and in with a shout of receiving a senior England call-up. Only last summer he was part of the England Under-21 squad that won the European Championships. Only a few months ago the left-back was linked with Manchester United.

United certainly know what Thomas is capable of, for it was at Old Trafford that the youngster scored his first ever Premier League goal. A beauty it was as well, a stunning volley in a 2-1 win in 2021.

Whether or not Manchester United's interest was genuine or just speculation, transfer talk hardly came as a surprise on the back of Leicester's relegation and with Thomas having quickly earned a glowing reputation after an excellent breakthrough.

A fair bit has happened for Boro's new recruit in the three-and-a-half years since he made his Foxes debut. He's only 22 but Thomas has already played almost 70 times in the Premier League, became an England Under-21 regular and won the FA Cup.

That, incredibly, was the first professional game he played with a crowd in attendance. More on that later. But first, this season and a Sheffield United loan stint cut short.

Thomas joined the Blades after their promotion to the top flight and quickly established himself in Paul Heckingbottom's side. But after a managerial swap at Bramall Lane and the appointment of Chris Wilder, the ex-Boro boss opted to cut short the agreement.

It wasn't that Thomas wasn't rated at Sheffield United.  When he was signed, the Blades had suffered a series of left-back injury setbacks leaving them extremely short in that department. Those players have since returned and Wilder was keen to free up a domestic loan space in a bid to add to other areas of his squad this month.

With Thomas heading back to Leicester, Boro pounced. He's understood to be a player those now involved in Boro's recruitment have tracked since 2020.

Boro would love to have signed Thomas in the summer but at that stage, when it became clear he wasn't what new Leicester boss Enzo Maresca was looking for in a full-back, a Premier League switch was always more likely for the young defender. Leeds wanted him but had to admit defeat.

His current contract at Leicester is due to expire this summer but the Foxes are understood to have an option to extend that deal by a year.

Signing a left-back wasn't on Boro's to-do list at the start of the January window but the injury Alex Bangura suffered against Chelsea forced the club into a rethink.

Michael Carrick has always stressed the importance of being able to respond to circumstances in a transfer window and that's exactly what Boro have done. A player of Thomas' pedigree, however, won't be joining Boro content to simply provide cover for Lukas Engel. The new recruit will be desperate to quickly force his way into the team and regain some career momentum.


Thomas grew up dreaming of being a striker and idolised Leicester City's former frontmen Matty Fryatt and Iain Hume. It was his Leicester youth coach Brian Hookway that turned him into a left-back. It proved an inspired decision.

Thomas had just turned 19 when he was made his Leicester Premier League debut against Sheffield United and hadn't turned 20 by the time he lifted the FA Cup.

The 2021 final was a Government pilot event after the covid lockdown and meant 20,000 fans were allowed inside Wembley. Remarkably, it was the first time Thomas had played in front of a crowd and the first time his dad, Nathan, a diehard Leicester fan, had seen him play for the Foxes.

"My dad hasn't stopped putting it on Facebook for six months or whatever it's been," Thomas said later in an interview with the Daily Mail.

"He called me straight after the game. A tear came to his eye at one stage. That's when I realised how much it meant to fans who had been around for so many years. They've had so many heartbreaks in the FA Cup, lost finals. But eventually we got there and won it. It was mind-blowing. The best day of my life."

After such an impressive club breakthrough and playing for England's Under-21s, Thomas was linked with a senior national call-up.

His Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said at the time: "Luke is in the mind of the guys involved in the selection team with England because he's playing with the 21s. They have had the chance to see him and work with him. He's doing very, very well.

"I have been absolutely delighted and he has a big personality, Luke. He's only going to get better with the games he plays.

"He's a very good defender, for a young guy, very brave, and you see with the quality of his football that he's a very good footballer."

The European Championship winning England Under-21 squad he was part of last summer included Real Madrid target Jarrad Branthwaite, Liverpool's Harvey Elliot and Curtis Jones, Chelsea regulars Levi Colwill and Cole Palmer and Newcastle's Anthony Gordon.

Thomas was in good company. He has the look of being a fine Boro signing.