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The Curious Career of Benik Afobe

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He used to be shite, but now he's.......an odd one

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Bolton Wanderers 'welcome' Wolves to the Reebok Stadium this weekend. One familiar face in the Wolves ranks will be former Arsenal man Benik Afobe.

The Londoner of course is well known to us thanks to his six month loan spell under the stewardship of Owen Coyle back in 2012, when he was, for the lack of a better word - shit.

In my opinion easily in the top ten worst players to ever play for Bolton, it appears that the former Sheffield Wednesday loanee has turned his career around somewhat.

Or has he? I confess, when I heard that Wolves had paid Arsenal nearly £2m for Afobe, I thought it was a wind-up.

He arrived at Bolton after we had suffered relegation from the Premier League. Coyle had earned a reputation of developing young attacking players with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge both having spent time on loan at the club from Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.

Afobe arrived that summer with a less than stellar goal record. With a grand total of five goals from his 31 career appearances on loan at Huddersfield Town and Reading in 2010/11, it was hard to see why Coyle chose to bring in the Arsenal teenager. Perhaps it was an inflated sense of self-ability, or perhaps it was just delusion. I would rather believe in the latter.

He memorably scored a hat-trick against Tranmere Rovers in a pre-season friendly that August, but his Wanderers career soon went downhill. Played in no-man's land between midfield and attack, the player looked timid and showed little appetite for a battle - which as we all know is a huge problem when you're in a team battling to return to the Premier League. He scored his first goal for the club against Crawley Town in a League Cup defeat at the end of August. His only league goal came against Wolves, coincidentally.

He would miss simple chances, fluffing his lines more often than someone who fluffs his lines a lot.

To the surprise of nobody the loan was cut short, and Afobe returned to Arsenal only to be farmed out on loan to Millwall a week later. His season was soon cut short with a bad injury though he'd failed to score in his five appearances for the club, unsurprisingly.

Upon his return from injury he would have an indifferent spell at Sheffield Wednesday, scoring just twice in 12 games. A Wednesday-supporting pal of mine would later comment that he played as if he was a competition winner where the prize had been to play the part of a professional footballer, such was his general ineptitude.

Then things took a sort of X-Files turn when he was loaned to MK Dons at the start of this season. Granted it was in Division Three, but Afobe stunned the footballing world by.....scoring regularly and often.

He famously would score two goals against Louis van Gaal's Manchester United in a 4-0 League Cup win at whatever MK Dons stadium is called, going on to hit an impressive 19 goals before Christmas prompting this big-money move to tomorrow's opponents.

Of course in writing this I fully accept that I have probably doomed Wanderers to conceding an Afobe goal tomorrow, but I don't care it needed to be said.

Nobody knows which Benik Afobe will arrive at the game tomorrow - let's hope it's the one that we're familiar with.