I don't mind being the man in the middle - in-demand Dapo on new Bolton role

·3-min read
Dapo Afolayan says he has learned a lot in the number 10 role at Wanderers
Dapo Afolayan says he has learned a lot in the number 10 role at Wanderers

DAPO Afolayan insists he doesn’t mind being front and centre of the attack at Wanderers.

Top scorer at the UniBol last season with 14 goals, his most prolific spell came playing off the left side of Bolton’s front line.

He was then moved into the number 10 role post-January to accommodate a change in formation and personnel but the former West Ham man says he is learning to love his new position.

“I do enjoy playing it – I get the ball in more central areas. I am a dribbler, I like beating people, and that is something I don’t always have the opportunity to do as a 10, you have to move the ball quicker,” he said.

“But there are different ways to play it, depending on who is up front, and that is the tactical side of the game I am learning and trying to improve on.”

Afolayan’s scoring form last season raised his profile and, inevitably, a string of clubs have already been linked with him this summer.

Rangers are the latest, reports at the weekend claiming the SPL giants are readying a £1.5million bid to compensate for the departing Ryan Kent.

Ian Evatt has already warned clubs that they must have “deep pockets” if they want to tempt away any of his top players.

Afolayan has regularly brushed off the speculation and is concentrating solely on getting Bolton into the Championship next season. But whether he does that in his more traditional position as a wide attacker or behind the front men remains to be seen.

“I played it before in different systems,” he said. “Even last year I think in my second start I played as a 10 at Mansfield but in a 4-2-3-1, which was different. In a 3-5-2 it is different again in the way we play out and I have to occupy spaces away from the strikers and the wing-backs.

“I am learning and someone who watches a lot of football from all over the world. I always look for bits and parts to add to my game.

“It is always good to add another string to your bow. “ Before he signed for Bolton in January 2021 – initially on loan – Afolayan had gained experience at a handful of different clubs.

One spell was at Oldham Athletic, which coincided with Paul Scholes’s brief time in charge at Boundary Park.

Afolayan said he was able to pick up some good advice from the former Manchester United and England star, who had been one of the Premier League’s best attacking midfielders.

“He was the best player by far in training,” he said. “A really good guy, a good manager, and it was gutting when he left. But I have spoken to him since and he is top drawer.

“He has been really supportive and to have someone like that saying good things about you in any regard, I’ll take that any day of the week.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting