OLDHAM Athletic have confirmed that their right-back, Kieran Lee, is joining Sheffield Wednesday.
Lee, winner of four Latics Player of the Year awards this season, will be moving to Hillsborough on a free transfer.
His contract runs out this summer and it is understood that he has chosen to join the Owls despite competition from several other clubs.
Oldham chairman Simon Corney said: “I can confirm that Kieran has left the club and it looks like he is joining Sheffield Wednesday.
“We did make him an offer but at the end of the day we simply cannot compete with a club like Wednesday, who are going to be in the Championship.
“Even the so-called big clubs in League One, like Huddersfield, can’t compete with Sheffield Wednesday in these sort of situations.”
Corney added: “Sometimes when players leave, you feel let down because you think they owe you something, but this is absolutely not the case with Kieran.
“He’s a great boy; I can’t speak highly enough of him; I wish we had 11 Kieran Lees. Everyone at the club wishes him all the best.”
Lee, born in Stalybridge, will be 24 next month. He has spent four years at Boundary Park after leaving Manchester United, where he came through the youth system to become reserve-team captain and played one Premier League game, against Chelsea. He has also played in the Championship while on loan at QPR in 2007-08.
Wednesday will see him as providing competition for Lewis Buxton, who has been first choice all season and is the club’s only recognised senior right-back after the release of Jon Otsemobor.
Lee played in both of Oldham’s games against Wednesday this season and scored in their 3-2 win at Sheffield United in March.
The Owls have sounded out Wolves, Reading, Newcastle and Burnley about this season’s loan players, Danny Batth, Michail Antonio, Nile Ranger and Keith Treacy, but their search is also spreading wider and it is understood many players are finding them an attractive proposition after the revival inspired by Dave Jones.
The club have announced the launch of a North American academy, which will establish links between the Owls academy and youth football clubs in Canada and the USA, in a partnership involving sports management company Global Image Sports.