Oladapo Afolayan may have played his final game for West Ham United already after the striker addressed the chances of signing for Bolton Wanderers permanently.
In quotes by The Bolton News, Afolayan has stated that he is focused on helping the League Two side in their push for promotion during his time on loan at the UniBol, and that any talks over his future will have to wait.
The 23-year-old is out of contract with parent club West Ham at the end of the season but could be offered a permanent move to Bolton, with head coach Ian Evatt making no secret of his desires to keep the forward.
“He’s a good, young player with a lot of talent and a lot of ability. His work ethic is there as well,” Evatt said earlier this month. “He’s a bright one for the future and hopefully we can keep him at Bolton Wanderers for the long-term, that’s what we want to do.”
Afolayan had strived to secure a loan move for the second half of the 2020/21 season to play regular first-team football after an injury-ravished year in the Hammers’ academy, and has impressed during his nine fourth-tier outings to date.
Building on those appearances is the focus for now, with Bolton travelling to relegation-threatened Port Vale on Saturday looking to better solidify their Play-Offs position.
“Playing regularly is something that I’ve needed for a while now,” Afolayan said. “I’ve not had it for a few years. I’ve had injuries and things like that, and I’ve worked hard in the U23s at West Ham this season and in and around the first-team, and in January looked to go out on loan and get some regular football.
“It was an easy decision to come here once I’d spoken to the manager and seen everything the club wanted to do. It’s a really good club and I’m really enjoying my football here and to be honest, I’m just working hard and trying to help this team get promoted this season and then I’ll reassess my options after that.”
Afolayan stating that he will reassess his options at the end of the season could mark a signal to a future away from West Ham, where his only first-team action to date came in a 20-minute cameo during January’s FA Cup victory over Doncaster Rovers.
Afolayan scored from the bench eight minutes into his introduction at the London Stadium, but he is yet to find the back of the net for Bolton – although he is “not too worried” by his only goal involvement thus far being an assist in the second of his nine appearances.
Evatt does not seem concerned, either, and stated following Bolton’s 2-0 win over Scunthorpe United last month how he sees the “excellent” forward being able to operate across the Whites’ frontline.
“I just thought that Dapo likes to go and hunt the ball and dribble and because Scunthorpe were 4-4-2, we thought that having Dapo as the extra player in midfield, as the number 10, that he could really cause problems and create things from that position,” Evatt explained.
“He’s improving with every game, he’s getting fitter and stronger. He’s still a young player and people can’t forget that.”
But Afolayan’s progress at the University of Bolton Stadium may ultimately be for the Wanderers gain and not West Ham’s, unless David Moyes can convince him to sign a new contract.
Given that he’s keen to play regularly, it seems like he may well prefer a move to Bolton over sticking at West Ham where he’s unlikely to get much of a look in.
AND in other news, West Ham face a £43m asking price to land a 24-y/o ace who “never gets tired”…