Ricardo rejects Sam to stick with Whites
RICARDO Gardner has pledged to see out his career with Wanderers after turning down the chance to join West Ham.
Sam Allardyce has failed in his attempt to land the experienced Jamaican on a free transfer, with the 32-year-old now set to sign a one-year deal at the Reebok when he returns for pre-season training next month.
After taking former Wanderers charges Kevin Nolan and Abdoulaye Faye to Upton Park, former Reebok boss Allardyce made Gardner a lucrative offer to quit Bolton and help his promotion push from the Championship.
But the versatile midfielder – who arrived in Bolton 13 years ago as a teenager and has now played more than 400 games for the Whites – opted to sign a contract with Wanderers on considerably reduced terms, which will be topped up according to his first-team appearances next season.
Gardner’s representative, Phil Graham, said the player was reluctant to uproot his family to gamble on playing outside the top flight.
“It was very tempting for Ricardo to go and play for Sam, as a former manager, and one he enjoyed a lot of success with” he told The Bolton News.
“But he didn’t particularly want to relocate, and his family certainly didn’t want to relocate. He loves the club and the town, and wants to see his career out at Bolton, and more importantly in the Premier League.”
Newly promoted Norwich City also made contact over a deal, with a move to the MLS also discussed in the last couple of weeks.
But Gardner, who was signed for £1million by Colin Todd from Harbour View shortly after the 1998 World Cup, has opted to play for his place under Coyle and take his Wanderers career into a 13th season.
A serious thigh injury restricted the fans’ favourite to just three Premier League starts last season, but they were all made in the final month of the campaign after a successful loan spell at Preston North End.
Coyle was impressed by Gardner’s work-rate after proving his fitness but unable to substantiate him remaining as one of the squad’s top earners.