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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Valakari agrees Derby deal
Simo Valakari
Simo Valakari: Moving south of the border
Motherwell midfielder Simo Valakari will move south of the border in the summer after signing a pre-contract agreement to join Derby in a four-year deal under the Bosman ruling.

The 27-year-old Finnish international, who has 15 caps for his country, rejected an improved offer to stay at Fir Park to fulfil a long-standing ambition to play in the Premiership.

Valakari has spent three years with Motherwell and settled well in Scotland, but manager Billy Davies admits there was no way of retaining his services once Derby's interest was confirmed.

Fantastic

Davies said: "I'm disappointed to lose him because he has been a fantastic player for this club over the last three years.

"Yet there comes a time in every player's career when they outgrow a certain club and we feel Simo has outgrown this club.

"He has played at international level and feels ready for another challenge and we recognise this is a great opportunity for him to go into the Premiership and show what he can do.

"I hope he goes down to Derby and does very well. He will be difficult to replace but that is the situation with the Bosman ruling. Now we have to make it work for us this summer."

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