Carlisle United are set to break their incoming transfer record after confirming the signing of Luke Armstrong from League Two Harrogate Town.
According to the News and Star, the fee paid by the Blues will exceed the £140,000 paid for Joe Garner in 2007.
Armstrong was pursued by a number of clubs in the summer window, including Carlisle, but United did not decide to pursue the deal then.
Most notably, Armstrong was moments away from a move to Wrexham on deadline day, but the deal fell through after the relevant paperwork was not submitted in time.
The 27-year-old will now arrive at Brunton Park upon the opening of the window on New Year’s Day, with the first chance for fans to see their new signing on the long away trip to Exeter City five days later.
Born in Durham, Armstrong came through the youth academies of Middlesborough and Birmingham City. He moved north across the border to Cowdenbeath, before coming back to the North East, playing for Blyth Spartans for two years. His 23 goals in 42 league games brought him back into Boro’s interests.
Following two loan spells to Accrington Stanley and Gateshead, Salford City snapped up his signature, but failed to kick on in Manchester. A loan at Hartlepool United got the attention of Harrogate Town, where he has played over 100 games, netting 31 goals.
Speaking to a fan forum yesterday, Carlisle boss Paul Simpson confirmed the club’s interest for Armstrong in the last window, saying [Quotes via News and Star]: “We’ve enquired two or three other times, but he’s been too expensive. Last summer we spoke to Harrogate again, and they told us the figures Wrexham and MK Dons were [going to pay] for him, and it was a very short conversation from there.
“The deal fell through. The top and bottom of it is, Harrogate were a bit naffed off they’d lost out on that hell of a sale, and Luke was naffed off he’d missed out on the chance to earn an incredible contract.
“He went back to Harrogate, and they agreed he wasn’t going to play because he was going to go in January.
“We agreed a fee. It is nowhere near what Wrexham were going to pay. We feel it was a reasonable fee.
“Once we got permission to Luke, we started talking about it. He really liked the idea, really fancied it, were able to agree a deal with his agent Ben [Harding], and it was done.”
Armstrong was always going to leave Harrogate Town at some point this season, it was just a question of where he would end up. Wrexham’s signing of Steven Fletcher following the collapse of the deal shut one very tempting door for him. Carlisle gives Armstrong a chance to prove himself at the League One level once more, having played nine games for Accrington in the division.
The 27-year-old will now star alongside the man who’s record he has broken, Joe Garner, and adds a new attacking option to a team that has only scored 17 goals in 21 league games this season. Adding Armstrong will hopefully motivate the rest of his new attacking partners greater motivation for performances. However, he will have his work cut out in a division he has little experience in to help Carlisle avoid the drop.