News From Manchester: Past Championship transfer links illustrates Bolton Wanderers success for summer blueprint

Players went out of the door. Eoin Doyle, who had fired the goals to see Wanderers earn promotion out of League Two, returned home to his native Ireland to play for St Patrick's Athletic, combining it with a scouting role for his former employers to eye the best talent in the Irish top flight.

Former skipper Antoni Sarcevic had already departed the club towards the end of October. He made a shock move to Stockport County which has been a success after the Hatters were promoted back to the EFL after an absence of more than 10 years.

Both left gaps in the squad which required filling and Wanderers did just that in January. The two players who perhaps most likely fill those voids bookended the club's business at the beginning of 2022.

Dion Charles became the first player Bolton had shelled out a transfer fee for since 2018 when Josh Magennis moved from Charlton Athletic. His signing was announced on New Year's Day when the transfer window opened as Ian Evatt's side wasted no time at all in adding reinforcements.

Charles had been out of action at previous club Accrington Stanley since September as question marks surrounded his future. His now former boss John Coleman claimed there was a 'Mexican stand-off' in a contract dispute with the Northern Ireland international.

The striker would have been out of contract this summer and available on a free transfer. But Wanderers made the move to pay a six-figure fee for Charles to get him to the University of Bolton Stadium and tie him down to a long-term deal.

The striker took some time to build up his fitness and had a dip in goalscoring during his first half a campaign at Wanderers. But eight goals in 24 games, started with a formidable winning volley against Shrewsbury Town and capped off with a crazy 45-yard effort from a slide tackle, is an exciting start to life at Bolton for Charles.

The player that became the final signing of the window, announced late on transfer deadline day, is one who was perhaps seen as a Sarcevic replacement. Kyle Dempsey moved on from Gillingham after a pursuit which lasted most of January.

Again like Charles, he would have been available on a free transfer this summer. But Wanderers paid a fee to get him in the door six months early, and like with the striker, would have faced more competition this summer undoubtedly in an open market.

Dempsey has made 11 appearances so far for Wanderers in a stop-start career so far at the Whites. Injuries hampered his time out on the pitch in the second half of the campaign and it is fair to say the best is yet to come from Dempsey in a Wanderers shirt.

But looking back at the clubs the duo had been linked with prior to the moves to Wanderers took place perhaps shows the calibre of players Wanderers have signed. Both Charles and Dempsey had been linked with moves to the Championship.

Last summer, Charles was rated at 1.5m and had reportedly attracted the likes of Derby County, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town. Dempsey had been the subject of Championship interest in January 2021, with up to four clubs from the second tier keen to speak to the Gills over the midfielder.

Wanderers moved earlier this year to transform their squad and parted with transfer fees to get their targets into the building. Though a price to pay, it shows that it pays off when the right targets are brought in this summer.

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