The stylish 28 year-old playmaker, who is expected in Derry on Friday morning to complete the formalities, has agreed personal terms and will rejoin the Brandywell outfit on an initial two-year deal with an option for a third.
It’s a major coup for Derry City boss Ruaidhri Higgins who believes the club’s marquee signing will ‘excite’ the fans and he’s delighted to bring home ‘one of the best players in the country.’
The Shantallow man’s imminent arrival will renew his working relationship with Higgins who coached him for three years at Dundalk and played with him at Derry City from 2011 to 2013.
“I’m looking forward to working with Patrick again and we’re delighted to be bringing one of the best players in the country back to his hometown club,” said the City boss. “I think it’s really exciting news for our supporters, for myself and for the club.”
With six months remaining on his current contract with Dundalk, Derry remain hopeful of negotiating McEleney’s release during the July transfer window and are prepared to offer a fee.
However, talks between the club chairman, Mr Philip O’Doherty and the hierarchy at Oriel Park are set to continue.
The arrival of McEleney, who joined Dundalk in 2015 after making 225 appearances for Derry, will be viewed as a major statement of intent from the Lone Moor Road club who have targeted a league title challenge within the next three years.
Mr O’Doherty has backed new boss Higgins in the transfer market with the recent addition of striker Jamie McGonigle and the signing of McEleney, who has enjoyed a trophy-laden career with Dundalk, will certainly whet the appetite of the Brandywell Faithful.
Big-spending Irish League outfit Glentoran were reportedly preparing to table a five figure bid for the in-demand attacker but stopped short of making an offer when it became clear there was only one destination for McEleney who is keen to return to Derry with his family. His relationship with Higgins also played a key role in his decision to return to Foyleside.
The former Sunderland and Tranmere forward made his Derry City debut on March 19th 2010, scoring his first goal for his hometown in a 3-1 win away at Longford. He went on to score in his next three games and left Brandywell for Dundalk in 2015 having netted 40 goals.
He went on to play an integral role in Dundalk’s domestic dominance, winning three league titles, two FAI Cups and two League Cups, not to mention that historic run to the UEFA Europa League group stages in 2016.
McEleney played 90 minutes of Dundalk's 4-0 win over Welsh club Newtown in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference League.