Afolayan to Amaechi – Bolton Wanderers’ 21/22 transfer business with 16 signings rated

Bolton Wanderers made a total of 16 signings across both transfer windows in the 2021/22 campaign in League One.

Nine were made in the summer as Wanderers prepared for life back in the third tier of English football. A further seven were made earlier this year as the squad was transformed once again.

The Whites ended up in the top 10 with a tally of 73 points, 10 behind the play-off places as the standard needed to make the top six went up a level. Wanderers are aiming for a promotion charge in earnest next season.

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And they have already got their summer recruitment off to a great start with the acquisition of defender Jack Iredale from Cambridge United. He has signed a three-year deal at Wanderers and joins a free transfer.

Here we take a look at last season’s signings and rate the business done by the Whites in the past 12 months.

Josh Sheehan- 6/10

Summer signing from Newport County hit the ground running when he joined the club, scoring goals in his first two League One games for the club. He was limited to 20 appearances after suffering a ruptured ACL in November which ended his season. A player who will be looking to replicate his early campaign form when he returns to action in pre-season.

Joel Dixon – 6/10

Arrived from Barrow over the summer and quickly became the club’s number one goalkeeper ahead of Matt Gilks ​​in the first half of the campaign. But he was ultimately ousted as first choice after not convincing consistently enough and one of last acts this season was error which led to Hartlepool United dumping Wanderers out of the Papa John’s Trophy in early January.

Dapo Afolayan – 9/10

What a signing Afolayan proved to be last summer after joining Wanderers on a permanent basis following a successful loan spell. He ended the season as the club’s top scorer with 14 goals and has attracted interest from the Championship and Rangers. A great in demand talent who Wanderers aim to keep hold of.

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Declan John – 8/10

Like Afolayan, a player captured on a permanent deal last summer after a successful loan spell. A steady presence on the left hand side of defense and attacking qualities in particular a big asset for Wanderers. He looked all the more threatening when deployed as a wing-back where he could demonstrate his abilities in the final third even more.

Will Aimson – 7/10

Defender signed last summer from Plymouth Argyle but had to wait until October for his debut owing to injury. He filled in when central defensive gaps appeared throughout the season. Question marks still over his distribution from the back and use of the ball, but defensive qualities are clear to see and he has proven a useful player to have in the squad.

Amadou Bakayoko – 7.5/10

Had limited impact in first half of the season owing to injury, but proved to be big asset in second half with 11 goals in 2022 as her ran Afolayan close in the top scorer chase and finished just one strike behind. A valuable player, particularly with his impact off the bench and the energy he brings and was rewarded with a first international call-up and goal for Sierra Leone.

George Johnston – 7.5/10

His first full season in men’s professional football following a summer move from Feyenoord saw him become first choice in the heart of defence. A promising 23-year-old who won the club’s young player of the year award who caught the eye with his interceptions and ability to come out from the back with the ball.

Elias Kachunga – 6.5/10

Took time to build up his fitness having joined on the eve of the campaign with no pre-season after joining from Sheffield Wednesday. He was approaching his best form of the season before an enforced interruption in the campaign because of a Covid-19 outbreak in the camp. He spent more time as a substitute off the bench in the second half of the campaign after returning from injury.

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Dion Charles – 8/10

A player who took a little bit of time to get up to speed at Wanderers after joining at the start of January from Accrington Stanley where he lacked game time. But when he did, he proved to show what a signing he was with six goals in a nine game spell, with his playing style endearing himself to the Wanderers faithful immediately. He experienced a goal drought which ended with a brace in the last game of the season and will be a big asset next season as Wanderers aim to reach the Championship.

Aaron Morley – 8/10

Young midfielder joined from Rochdale in the January transfer window and looks to be a very shrewd signing. He has looked impressive with his range of passing in the middle of the park and scored marvelous effort against Gillingham with his first goal for the club, and it is exciting to think what he could do next season.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson – 8/10

Like Charles, Iceland international Bodvarsson took time to get up to speed at Wanderers after a lack of game time at Millwall. But his quality shone through when fit and firing, scoring seven goals by the end of the season. Next campaign will be his first full season in League One and, with a full pre-season under his belt, he could make a huge impact.

Kieran Sadlier – 7/10

A player whose versatility has proven useful since his January transfer window move from Rotherham United. Able to play across the attack and even as a wing-back, Sadlier managed four goals in the second half of the campaign. A solid and useful option to have in the squad and part of a competitive final third department of the Wanderers squad.

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Kyle Dempsey – 5.5/10

The final signing of the January transfer window made late on deadline day as he joined from Gillingham. He is clearly a talented player in that central midfield area of ​​the squad, but he has not really shown his full potential yet owing to injuries keeping him out of action.

Xavier Amaechi – 3/10

A player who was signed with a big hype surrounding him following a loan move from Hamburg. But he suffered a fractured metatarsal in pre-season which meant he had to wait until November for his debut. Wanderers added heavily to their squad in the final third which, added to further injuries, restricted Amaechi’s game time even further. The winger will not return to the club next season after a move which simply did not work out.

Marlon Fossey – 8.5/10

A player who played only 16 times during a loan spell from Fulham but made a big impact. The defender proved to be a huge threat at right wing-back and notched five assists and a goal in that time, before a torn meniscus curtailed that spell early. A player Wanderers want to land this summer and would be a huge boost if it comes to pass.

James Trafford – 7.5/10

Manchester City loanee arrived in January and became the club’s first choice goalkeeper not long after his arrival for the second half of the season. A young player who has made a couple of errors but for the most part, was a solid and dependable influence in between the sticks. Like with Fossey, a player Wanderers would like to have back for next season.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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