TALISMAN Joss Labadie turned down the offer of a contract extension with Newport County AFC to sign for League Two rivals Walsall on a two-year deal.

The 30-year-old midfielder was offered a fresh Exiles deal after the agonising League Two play-off final defeat to Morecambe at Wembley.

However, the Midlands-based captain has instead opted to stick in the fourth tier with the Saddlers.

Labadie produced one of his finest performances of the season when he scored the sole goal at the Bescot in February. Now he will call Walsall home.

"I'm buzzing to be here," he said. "It's an amazing club, with an amazing stadium and an amazing manager. I can't wait to get started.

"The club in itself is a League One club for me and I want to try and play my part in getting us to that level.

"I had a meeting with Matt (Taylor, new manager) and it was really productive, really positive and the prospect of playing under him with his ideas and philosophy was very attractive."

Labadie joined County in 2016 and played 146 times for the club.

The midfielder is a club legend after leading the charge for two promotion bids and the memorable knockout cups runs that boosted the club coffers.

"To the Amber Army. Thank you for the last five years. They have been the best of my career to date," he posted on social media.

"The time has come for a new challenge, but I will always hold Newport close to my heart. Thanks for the memories #UTC "

South Wales Argus:

Labadie was a leading figure in the League Two run in and had a glorious opportunity to score the winner at Wembley only to fire over the bar from close range.

He has now opted to head closer to home, a decision that leaves County needing to rebuild their midfield after the expected departure of Wales midfielder Josh Sheehan, who has signed for Bolton Wanderers after their promotion to League One.

Scot Bennett is staying with the Exiles after his contract was triggered into an extra season but the club will now need to add fresh blood.

Sheehan and Labadie were the heartbeat of the side, leaving manager Michael Flynn with work to do if County are to be contenders in 2020/21.

So far goalkeepers Joe Day and Nick Townsend, defenders Matty Dolan, Bennett and Priestley Farquharson and forwards Lewis Collins, Padraig Amond and Dom Telford are under contract.

Dolan could move forward to pull the strings from midfield in the absence of Sheehan but has been a key figure at the heart of defence under Flynn.