Deadline day double for Dougie
IT was double delight for Dougie Freedman as he wrapped up two major signings in the final hours of transfer deadline day.
Sierra Leone international midfielder Medo Kamara arrived from FK Partizan, while Wanderers also landed Belgian winger Steven de Ridder on loan from Southampton until March.
Despite heavy interest from elsewhere in Marcos Alonso and David Ngog, the Whites managed to keep their existing squad intact but perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was that the club cut short Benik Afobe’s season-long loan from Arsenal.
Afobe had made 23 appearances, seven of which were starts, since arriving in the previous window but had failed to command a regular place in the team.
Freedman believes he has picked up a gem by signing sought after midfielder Kamara after fighting off interest from top clubs in several countries.
It is understood that Wanderers have paid a nominal fee for the combative midfielder, who boasts Champions League experience with FK Partizan and HJK Helsinki.
Though Whites fans were forced to wait for their Champagne signing, with international clearance taking the majority of yesterday to arrive, the manager insists the 25-year-old will be well worth the effort.
“He is the right age and I know he has the right mentality,” Freedman said.
“I have seen him play a few times over the years. He used to play with one of my very good friends (former Crystal Palace star Aki Riihilahti) in Helsinki.
“The boy has had a few issues this year with his game. He had offers all over the world so I believe we have got a bargain.
“Through persuasion, his dream of playing in England and hopefully in the Premier League, that’s why he has chosen Bolton.
“He is a steal when you look at his age and his experience.”
Kamara has been linked with a move to England on several occasions in the last few years and Freedman kept an eye on his progress in Serbia.
“When he moved to Partizan, there was no way I could get him at Crystal Palace because we were nowhere near the money,” he explained.
“He was one of those I thought I had missed out on.
“I know for a fact there were other clubs involved with big money. But he missed out.”
Freedman went to great pains to try and keep his move for Kamara under wraps for as long as he could, fearing interest from around the world could price him out of the deal.
“He told Belgrade he wasn’t going to sign a new contract and pretty much over there, if you won’t sign, you don't play which is pretty much what happened before the winter break,” he said.
“It's been a very hard one because there have been a lot of clubs in there.
“If he can adjust to the English game he will be a very good signing.
“This player is very experienced tactically, not only at Partisan but at Helsinki where I first saw him. You start to look at my signings and they are all of a very similar type.”
De Ridder was a regular contributor in the Southampton side that gained promotion to the Premier League last season but has found his chances limited in the top flight, making only six appearances this season.
The 25-year-old arrives to add some competition on the wings after the sale of Martin Petrov to Espanyol.
Youngster Cian Bolger’s move from Leicester City was also rubber stamped by the Whites yesterday evening, with the Irish defender moving straight into Jamie Fullarton’s development squad.
“It is a development signing,” confirmed the manager.
“The Under-21s have got to be stronger. I felt I couldn’t pick a player to come into the team and I like to do that. So, I am putting in a bit of time and effort in the development squad.”
As always, there was plenty of rumour about possible departures at the Reebok.
Kevin Davies was mentioned as a possible target for both Burnley and Celtic – although the Whites insist they received no offer from either club - while a verbal loan bid from Fulham for Ngog was turned down.
Neither Stoke City nor Fiorentina met the £600,000 asking price for Alonso, which now leaves the young full-back with a decision to make on his future.
Young winger Michael O'Halloran also extended his loan at Tranmere Rovers until the end of the season.
But there was no loan move in the end for winger Gregg Wylde, with Scottish club Hibs unable to agree financial terms with Wanderers.