DALE Thomas has officially joined Carlton after Collingwood decided against matching the offer made to the restricted free agent.

The Magpies made it clear in a short statement that it expected to receive a first round pick in compensation for the 26-year-old premiership midfielder.

The decision re-unites Thomas with Carlton coach Mick Malthouse, who had a huge influence on his career.

Thomas said after a tough couple of seasons, the time was right to move on. He said he was looking forward to being coached by Malthouse and playing alongside Marc Murphy and Chris Judd.

The Blues signed Thomas to a four-year deal and are confident he can overcome the ankle injury that destroyed his 2013 season. The complex injury requires rest and careful management.

Thomas has played 157 games with Collingwood, making an impact in his first season after the Magpies used selection No.2 in the 2005 AFL National Draft (Carlton selected Murphy with pick No. 1).

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He became a fan favourite with his dashing runs and high flying exploits but Malthouse moulded him into a reliable, tough midfielder. Thomas played his best, most consistent football in 2010 and 2011.

He was a star in the finals as Collingwood claimed the 2010 premiership and was named an All-Australian in 2011, with Fremantle coach Ross Lyon describing him at one stage as the best player in the game.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said everyone at Collingwood wished him well.

"'Daisy’ has always played with passion and as a young player he embodied the new spirit of the sides that would win the flag in 2010 and play in the grand final of 2011," Buckley said.

"He was a big occasion player who often thrived on the MCG stage. He enjoyed the theatre. The crowds, the roar, the stakes, they seemed to inspire him.

"The game has since thrown its challenges at him and he is looking to start afresh but he shared in a history-making moment with us and will always be remembered for that. Everyone at Collingwood wishes him well."

Carlton were rapt to lure Thomas to Visy Park with Malthouse saying his finals experience made him a great fit for the group.

"Dale is quick, hard at it, has a real presence about him, and will give us a real variety in positional play," Malthouse said.

"He's been successful in being part of a premiership side, part of many finals campaigns, and he brings to us a personality that will blend in very well with our current group."