FORMER Wales under- 21 defender Ryan Valentine has agreed to join Wrexham next season from Darlington.
The Wrexham-born 23-year-old, who was on Everton's books as a youngster, will be meeting manager Denis Smith today to thrash out the details of his move.
He has turned down the chance to stay with the Quakers in favour of joining his hometown club on a performance-related deal.
Darlington will receive a fee, the size of which is dependent on the Dragons either reaching the play-offs or winning promotion to League One during Valentine's time at the Racecourse.
Darlington manager Dave Hodgson admitted he was sorry to lose a key player, who made more than 170 appearances for the club after joining them in 2002 from Goodison Park.
"Ryan has a real desire to play for Wrexham and that was not something I was prepared to deny him," he said yesterday..
"It's extremely disappointing but it's something we have to accept. Ryan has been a great servant for this club."
The defender was never made a secret of his desire to join his hometown club and Smith was delighted that Valentine was prepared to commit himself to Wrexham - even though his contract will not be signed until the current takeover of the club has gone through on June 29.
Smith said: "Ryan is a very versatile defender, who can play anywhere along the back line. I have to cover as many positions as I can at the moment, because I don't know which of my current players are going to to be here next season.
"Until Nev Dickens and Geoff Moss acquire the club, all I can do is talk to players, but I'm conscious of the fact that supporters want to know who is coming and who is going.
"That applies to me as well and I'm waiting to hear from the likes of Lee Roche, Simon Spender and Andy Holt. So far Mike Williams is the only defender to have agreed terms and, though I've talked to everyone, I can understand some of them waiting to be sure that the deal does go through."
Wrexham's Player of the season, Danny Williams, and defender Shaun Pejic are almost certain to be among the first to accept the deals they have been offered, while Holt is away on holiday, but Smith admitted he was trying to squeeze months of negotiations into the space of a few weeks.
"In an ideal world, we'd like to have been at least a month further along the line than we are," added the Racecourse boss..
"I'd love to be able to say exactly what is happening and what I'm doing, but I have absolutely no doubts the deal will go through as scheduled on June 29 and, hopefully, then people will be putting pen to paper.
"The current contracts run until June 30 and the new ones begin on July 1 and by then Nev and Geoff should be in charge. The fact is, though, that it's likely to be September or October before we are settled and have the players that we want. At least we are still here to do things and we have to look at it in that way."