MANAGER Alan Knill believes that new defender Krystian Pearce could turn into one of Torquay United's most valuable assets.
Knill snapped up the powerful centre-back following his release by League One Notts County, the move a reward for keeping tabs on the former Birmingham City starlet over many months.
Now Knill says: "I believe that, at 23, there is still loads of improvement in Krystian.
"He's already a good player, but he can get even better, and I hope and believe that we could sell him for good money in time."
Knill had watched Pearce many times during his early career, which was spent mainly on loan from Birmingham. It included a successful spell under Nigel Adkins at Scunthorpe United (2008-2009), where Knill himself later managed.
Pearce, 6ft 3in tall, came to the end of a three-year contract at Meadow Lane recently, but Knill maintained contact with the centre-back even though he has been training with the Magpies this summer and was hoping to be offered a new deal.
"All the signs were that Notts were going to offer me something, but when push came to shove, it didn't happen," said Pearce.
He revealed that former Gulls loanee Joss Labadie, who has signed a new contract at County after an impressive spell at Plainmoor last season, helped to make his mind up about a move to United.
"Joss said how much he had enjoyed it down here, and he spoke very well of the club and the manager," he said.
"That was one of the main reasons why I was encouraged to sign right from the start.
"They say everything happens for a reason, and all I want to do now is push on in my career, play as many games as I can and help the team to be successful."
Even though he's only 23, Pearce has played 160 senior games already, having made his league debut at only 17.
Knill added: "Krystian didn't really want to drop down to League Two, and there were quite a few clubs who wanted to sign him and keep him in League One. But he's come to us because we've managed to persuade him that he can go back up again from here."
Knill's only frustration in defensive signings is that United's budget is not big enough for him to push through another deal for ex-Portsmouth and AFC Bournemouth player Shaun Cooper, who played a couple of games on trial during pre-season.
"We all like Shaun, and the decision was absolutely nothing to do with the way he played for us. He's a really good player, and he would have added to the squad in a number of positions, but we just couldn't do a deal for him as well."