Middlesbrough have reportedly been beaten to the signing of Norwegian midfielder Morten Thorsby.
Boro had all but secured a summer deal for the Heerenveen ace before Christmas, according to TEAMtalk.
But talks had stalled, allowing Serie A side Sampdoria to swoop for the 22-year-old on a free transfer.
A source within the report said: “Boro were close to landing him, the chairman had progressed the talks but things stalled and Sampdoria came in and grabbed him. He is an exceptional talent and Boro will be disappointed not to have finalised terms.”
Premier League duo Everton and Watford were also said to be interested in the Thorsby, who is now set for a move to Italy.
Thorsby is a versatile central midfielder who can operate just in front of the defence or behind the front line.
It signals another blow in the transfer window for Boro, having already missed out on Jason Puncheon.
Crystal Palace striker Alexander Sorlorth was also a target, but opted instead for KAA Gent over a move to the Riverside.