News From Manchester: Bolton Wanderers have avoided transfer window headache as Ricardo Santos statement made – John McDougall

But Bolton Wanderers have been keen to do so in recent seasons to tie down key assets to the club and give Ian Evatt a core of players he can call upon to build success at the University of Bolton Stadium. Three year deals and beyond have been handed out in the past and illustrates their importance.

Dapo Afolayan, Declan John and George Johnston were among those to be handed out deals of that length last summer. Dion Charles and Aaron Morley were handed contracts of three-and-a-half years in January.

Wanderers captain Ricardo Santos has joined the likes of Charles, Morley and new team mate Jack Iredale in putting pen to paper on a deal lasting until the summer of 2025. The defender's previous contract ran until mid-2023.

Santos' importance at Wanderers cannot be understated. He played every single game of the club's automatic promotion campaign out of League Two.

Were it not for injuries and suspensions, it is not hard to imagine that he would have managed the same feat in the 2021/22 campaign. He has played a total of 91 times for Wanderers in all competitions since signing for the club in the summer of 2020.

Clearly, Wanderers did not get their recruitment 100 per cent spot in during Evatt's first summer in charge of the club if one looks at the squad now compared to the start of the 2020/21 season. That's life, of course – no manager gets every single signing right.

But from that summer's business, the signing of Gethin Jones and Santos in particular stand out as huge successes. It is perhaps no coincidence that the duo are the club's vice-captain and captain respectively.

Anyone who watches Wanderers and Santos on a regular basis will be well aware of the quality he possesses and the importance he has to this Bolton team. He can operate in a central defensive pairing or in the heart of a back three.

Santos is fast, strong, can dominate aerially, is able to tackle, passes the ball both short and long with tremendous accuracy, and his presence at the back with his speed and defensive capabilities allows Bolton to perhaps take more chances and push more players forward, knowing that their captain will be there to snuff out any counterattacks from opposition sides. Perhaps the only area he needs to improve upon is to start scoring for Wanderers!

Had Santos left this summer, it would have a huge space in the team which would needed to have been filled. Wanderers boss Evatt has described his captain as 'irreplaceable' with the way he wants his side to play and feels him signing a new deal is as important as any Bolton make this summer.

It is difficult to argue with any of those views. Santos has not yet played in the Championship but all the evidence on the pitch suggests he is more than capable of doing so, especially since he had attracted attention from clubs in that division.

Evatt has said in the past that he believes Santos is the best defender in League One and feels it would be a struggle to find many better outside the Premier League. Praise does not come much higher than that.

Had Santos not signed a new deal, Wanderers would have been faced with a difficult situation. The club would have faced the prospect of having to sell Santos this summer or see him leave for nothing in 12 months and then the associated recruitment to fill the void he would leave.

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