By Pete O'Rourke

24th Jan, 2023 | 7:45am

Sources: Middlesbrough make move to sign Brighton star Jan Paul van Hecke

Middlesbrough are plotting a move for Brighton defender Jan Paul van Hecke, sources have told Football Insider.

Boro boss Michael Carrick has made a new defender one of his top priorities this month and has registered interest in signing the 22-year-old on loan.

The centre-back had a successful spell on loan at Blackburn last season and Boro want him to boost their promotion bid.

Van Hecke was a regular starter for Rovers last season, making 31 Championship appearances for the side and scoring one goal as Blackburn narrowly missed out on the playoffs.

Born in the Netherlands, van Hecke spent his youth career at NAC Breda, where he eventually broke through to the first team in the 2019/20 season.

He spent just one season with the side in the Dutch second tier, scoring an impressive three goals from defence in just 11 league appearances.

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Van Hecke was then snapped up by Brighton in 2020 on a three-year contract, with the club’s technical director Dan Ashworth describing him as “a young talent, a powerful defender” upon his arrival.

An immediate loan spell at Heerenveen followed, and van Hecke turned out to be a key figure for the side as they finished 12th in Eredivisie.

After impressing both in the Netherlands and the Championship, van Hecke has been handed two Premier League appearances at Brighton this season.

The first came under Graham Potter when he was sent on as a substitute for the final two minutes of the 1-0 win over Leeds United, while Roberto De Zerbi trusted him with a 78-minute stint during the 2-2 draw against Leicester this month.

In other news, Middlesbrough loanee Sol Brynn targeted by Premier League and Championship clubs this January