The 22-year-old wasn’t short of interest – and Football League World understands Brighton, Chelsea and Norwich City were just three sides thought to be interested in luring him away from former club MK Dons before arriving at the Swansea.com Stadium.
Sheffield United were also believed to be in the race for his signature with Paul Heckingbottom’s side in desperate need of adding depth to their backline following the departures of Charlie Goode and Filip Uremovic.
Quiz: Can you name which club these 27 ex-Swansea City players are playing for now?
However, it was Swansea who came out on top after sustaining their interest in the centre-back, who will come in to fill the vacancy created by Fin Burns who returned to Manchester City on the expiration of his loan deal last month.
Some will see this addition as a real coup considering the number of teams that were reportedly in the race for his signature, with some of those previously in the running currently operating in the Premier League.
And Martin has revealed they faced a major tussle with other sides in their successful attempts to land one of their top targets.
He said: “It’s a really brilliant signing for the club in terms of investment. We identified him at our previous club as someone who would really fit what we do, and he’s just grown and kicked on since then.
“He showed massive improvements last year, he’s gained even more experience and scored a lot of goals, which is something else he’s added to his game.
“We fought off a lot of competition from other clubs – even at the last minute, there were other clubs coming in – so he’s shown he’s really keen to be here and be part of something.”
It’s no surprise to see Darling attract major interest following a successful 2021/22 campaign under Liam Manning, proving to be an asset defensively and also going forward with his goals.
Although the Swans may not be in need of an extra injection of firepower at this stage, the potential departure of Joel Piroe this summer would leave a big gap to fill and Darling’s attacking contributions could help to fill that void if he can replicate his record from last term.
Recording 10 goals in 48 competitive appearances during 2021/22, this is such an impressive record and it could certainly help the Swans to build towards the top six if he can help to tighten up their defence.
It may take him a while to adapt to Martin’s style of play – but he could thrive in the second tier if given a sufficient chance to do so and could continue to attract top-tier interest if he lives up to expectations in South Wales.
Looking at this deal from the defender’s point of view, he took the right choice to make one step up instead of potentially heading straight to the top flight, because he’s likely to get plenty of game at the Swansea.com Stadium.