Express & Star

Walsall make statement defender signing

Walsall have completed the permanent signing of former loan defender David Okagbue from Stoke.

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The 20-year-old has turned down a new offer from the Potters and returned to the Bescot Stadium.

He featured heavily for Mat Sadler's side last season, making 35 appearances, with 30 of them in League Two.

Okagbue joined Stoke from Dublin in 2020 and had brief spells in non-league with Chester and Oldham before his first league loan last season.

He never made his senior debut at Stoke and has now departed to bolster the defensive options at Walsall, signing a two-year deal.

“I am absolutely buzzing to be back,” Okagbue said.

“Especially after last season, I love the club, I love everything about it. I love the team, it’s a great group, it’s a pretty similar group again this year and the staff were really good with me.

“It was a really easy decision for me at the end of last season and all throughout the off season, all I could think of was I wanted to come here and I am happy that it got done in the end.

“I spoke to the gaffer at the end of last season and he told me that he would do what he can to get me back and as soon as you know you are wanted somewhere, I wanted to come here and I had it in my head the whole time. It took a while in the end but we got there.”

Sadler is also pleased to be reunited with Okagbue and is looking forward to working with him again.

“I am really pleased that we have managed to get Dave over the line,” Sadler said.

"It is a deal that we have been working on for a while now and to finally have him in the building as our own player is brilliant.

“When we were made aware that a permanent transfer for Dave was possible, we did absolutely everything we could to make it happen.

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to the board for their continued effort and support in making deals such as this happen as we continue to build as a football club.

“We all saw the qualities that Dave has as a player last season and he gained so much confidence over the course of the year and hopefully he will continue to grow as a player and as a person over the next two years with us.

“Dave showed a real desire to come back to the club and after lots of hard work, I am delighted to have him back in the building.

“I would also like to thank Stoke for their help in getting this deal done and it further strengthens the relationship that we have with them as a club and we hope to further utilise the links between the clubs in the future.”