Sunderland have officially signed West Brom defender Billy Jones on a free transfer after the 27-year-old's contract with the Baggies expired.
Jones has agreed a four-year deal with the Black Cats and expressed his delight at the move on Sunderland's official website:
I'm really happy to be here and I'm looking forward to getting back for pre-season and kicking on.
I've played at the Stadium of Light a number of times so I know what it's about and what great backing the club has.
I've come to the training ground today and it's amazing. I knew I was signing for a massive club with everything in place to kick on up the league and carry on moving forward.
The former Preston man will become a Sunderland player on July 1 and is the first new signing at the Stadium of Light since manager Gus Poyet manufactured a miraculous escape from relegation, which saw four wins from their last five games and a 14th-place Premier League finish.
West Brom finished just three points from the drop after a terrible end to the season saw them win just one game from their final six, per BBC Sport.
Is Billy Jones a good signing for Sunderland?
Jones made 21 Premier League appearances for the Baggies in the 2013-14 campaign, per Squawka. It was his third term at the Hawthorns since joining from Preston in June 2011.
As well as his defensive prowess, Jones can also play in midfield. He should help to bolster the Black Cats' back line, which conceded 60 goals in 38 league games in 2013-14.
With the departure of Phil Bardsley to Stoke, Sunderland look to have moved quickly to bring in a replacement, per The Journal's Mark Douglas.
Jones signing looks like a replacement for Bardsley to me. #safc have moved quickly on that front.— Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas) May 28, 2014
West Brom will likely be concerned they could not keep hold of the former Crewe Alexandra player despite offering him a new contract, per Squawka.
The Birmingham outfit must now look for a suitable replacement as they aim for a better Premier League finish next season.
Sunderland must also add further strength to their squad. Despite a terrific end to the campaign, only a handful of stunning results helped them avoid relegation to the Championship.
They cannot rely on that happening next season, but with this early signing of Jones, it looks as though the Black Cats do have a transfer plan in place to make the necessary improvements to their squad.