Glenn Ferguson believes Ballymena United have sent out a statement of intent by signing defender Jim Ervin.
Ervin has agreed a two-and-a-half-year deal with the Sky Blues.
The 28-year-old secured his release from Linfield on Tuesday night after almost 10 successful years at Windsor Park.
Now Ervin – who was also wanted by Coleraine – is preparing for a new challenge at the Warden Street Showgrounds.
And Ballymena boss Ferguson believes the signing is a major coup for the club.
“I played with Jim at Linfield, so I know a lot about the qualities he has – on and off the pitch,” Ferguson said.
“He is an experienced Irish League defender and his pedigree and attitude is second to none.
“He is a specialist right-back who will bolster our defensive strength and options in other areas. His arrival allows Tony Kane to play in midfield or on the right side of midfield in a 4-4-2 formation.
“I think his signing sends out a very positive signal in terms of what we are trying to do as a club. During my time in charge, we have brought in the likes of Johnny Taylor, Stephen McBride and Jim Ervin from leading Belfast clubs.
“I have been chasing Jim for some time, so I’m really pleased to finally get this deal over the line.”
Another Linfield player believed to be on Ballymena’s radar is striker Peter Thompson.
The 29-year-old hitman – who has struggled with injury this season – comes out of contract in the summer.
Thompson is expected to remain at Windsor until the end of the season when he will consider his options.
Ballymena boss Ferguson formed a formidable partnership with Thompson during their time together at Linfield, and would be keen to link-up again.
Meanwhile, Ballymena appear to be closing in on the signature of Coleraine striker Darren Boyce.
Boyce – who has spent this season on-loan with Dungannon Swifts – is expected to finalise a deal with the Sky Blues on Thursday.
Ballymena striker Gary Liggett signed for Dungannon last week, while Shane Dolan recently parted company with the Showgrounds club by mutual consent.