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The Bolton & Leeds swap deal that almost happened

Five years on, Eddie takes a look at an unlikely transfer proposal between Bolton and Leeds

Blackburn Rovers v Bolton Wanderers Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

It’s been nearly two years since the emergency loan window was scrapped by FIFA, a move made to protect the “sporting integrity of competitions”.

Teams had to get used to doing all of their business in either the Summer or January transfer windows.

Since Bolton Wanderers’ relegation to The Championship in 2012, Owen Coyle, Dougie Freedman and Neil Lennon all brought in players on loan. Stephen Warnock, Alan Hutton, Giles Coke and Paddy McCarthy were just some of the players Wanderers signed during the loan window.

Five years ago today, Bolton Wanderers almost made a loan swap with this Friday’s opponents, Leeds United.

It was the end of the loan window, and Dougie Freedman was looking for a bit of extra quality to make a push for the Play-Offs.

Having been linked with moves for Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Manchester City’s Scott Sinclair, it was clear that Dooogie was after an attack minded player.

Step forward club hero, El-Hadji Diouf.

Then at Leeds United, Diouf had been a regular in Neil Warnock’s side. However, Warnock had set his sights on Wanderers’ captain Kevin Davies, and was planning to use Diouf in a swap deal. But why would Bolton let their captain go?

As you may remember, two days prior to this, Super Kev was told (on his birthday, of all days) that his contract wasn’t going to be renewed. It was a senseless decision. To inform someone who had played for Wanderers for the best part of a decade, that on his birthday his contract wasn’t going to be renewed, was just wrong. Davies deserved better.

It’s clear to see that situation could have been handled in a more dignified and respectful manner.

“I wanted to finish my career at Bolton but it isn’t to be”, Davies stated at the time.

After being told he was free to leave, several clubs were interested in signing Davies on loan.

Neil Warnock made his move and looked set to sign Davies, letting Dioufy come back to Wanderers. However, Kevin Davies wanted assurances that a permanent contract would be on the cards at the end of the season. That obviously didn’t happen, as Davies pulled out of the move at the last minute.

Dioufy’s return was subsequently cancelled.

Kevin Davies didn’t play another game for Wanderers.

Freedman would go on to sign two players at the deadline, West Ham United’s Rob Hall and Southampton’s Danny Butterfield.

Both of those players would make infamous appearances. Butterfield’s game against Leicester City is probably the worst outfield performance I've ever seen.

Rob Hall was surprisingly handed his debut for the last game of the season against Blackpool. Unfairly thrown in at the deep end, Hall was famously substituted in the first half as Wanderers missed out on the Play-Offs on goal difference.

Would Diouf have been a better option than Hall for that game? Five years prior, Dioufy played a major role in keeping Wanderers in the Premier League.

Would we have seen the same vigour and fight from Dioufy to try and secure a top six finish? Who knows.

El-Hadji Diouf remained at Leeds until the end of the 2013/2014 season, scoring seven times in 52 games during his time at Elland Road.