Sammy Ameobi’s time at Bolton Wanderers has been a periods of mixed emotions for both the fans and the player himself. Following a successful loan spell, the Nigerian was drafted in permanently by Phil Parkinson last summer as the most recent of a long line of products of this initially fool-proof trial/transfer set up.
To an extent, the return of Ameobi in the opinion of a select group of our supporters was a fan-pleaser, a shiny distraction, whatever you want to call it.
Ever since, Ameobi’s first full proper season has divided opinion and his future at the club would've no doubt become a massive talking point should we have been relegated back to League One. However, as his contract runs beyond the end of this season and with no initial desperation for fire sales thanks to our survival in the Championship, it is unlikely that Sammy will be on his way anywhere, any time soon.
Of course, it couldn't just be left there could it though? There wasn't a moment of appreciation for his hard-work and huge contributions throughout the season which we would've been lost without as the winger has supposedly told a fan during the post-match celebrations that he would be leaving.
Now Wanderers fans, read in to this what you will, but I have to be honest, I’m sitting on the fence with this one.
Going against the grain of many, I’d hate for Sammy to leave us. He brings something totally unique to the team which only he is capable of and to me, he’s an extremely valuable asset. Perhaps more so had we been relegated, but an asset nevertheless.
However, his exit is a genuine possibility if the experience of a first season provided by the club has either, not lived up to expectation, has been too much of an ask or quite simply, made the grass look much greener elsewhere.
Even though it could quite easily be any one of those things, I’m leaning towards the latter given that he undoubtedly has the ability to do it all over again, and if anything, could only improve amongst a better squad, specifically one suited to his personal playing preferences, positionally and game time wise.
Having been mucked and messed about throughout this season, improvising as a wing back, a winger on each flank, a number ten and a central striker, it wouldn’t be a total surprise if Ameobi would prefer somewhere that he can play his best football consistently without the worry of a heightened expectation or extra pressure to regularly perform in an unfamiliar system at short notice due to a relatively significant absentee.
As a fan of Sammy myself therefore, despite the unavoidable disagreement of him under-performing at Championship level, as much as I wouldn’t want him to leave given that I don't buy in to that theory whatsoever when you consider the relevant contextual factors in Ameobi’s form over the course of the season which all suggest that he’s more than earned another season with us, I also wouldn’t blame him.
In reality, regardless of your current opinion, everyone would eventually have to agree that Ameobi would be a massive loss for us as all the creativity, strength, confidence, flair and the ability to turn it on at will that he possesses would be something we’d miss considerably given that no-one else comes close to replicating the Nigerian’s unique playing style.
However, it could quite easily become a reality should recruitment and contract re-negotiations take priority, leaving the door wide open for any clubs sniffing around the 26 year-old who, I’m sure, could quite easily snap him up if the money was right.
Here’s hoping this won’t happen as irrespective of the constant criticism he receives, he’d be a huge loss for us and that’s the underlying reality of it folks.
To end then and to try and prevent myself from completely brainwashing you into believing everything that I have to provide you with about Sammy and whether or not his future lies with Bolton Wanderers, let me know in the comments below what your opinions on him are, whether or not his departure is likely and if it would be a welcomed one.