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Breaking the bank: A decade on from signing Johan Elmander

Eddie takes a look at Wanderers’ record signing

Aston Villa v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

For the first time in over three years, Bolton Wanderers are in a position to bring in a player for a fee. Wanderers fans have long awaited the day when the club didn’t have to rely on free transfers and loans to bolster the squad.

Speculation has been rife as to who could be Wanderers’ first cash buy since the club spent £75,000 to sign Filip Twardzik from Celtic in February 2015. Will it be Charlie Wyke from Bradford City? Will it be someone else? We can only wait and see.

A decade ago today, the situation was a little bit different. On this day in 2008 Bolton Wanderers broke their transfer record to sign Swedish international striker, Johan Elmander, from Toulouse for £8.2 million plus Daniel Braaten (who knows how much he was worth).

The fee eclipsed the previous record of £8 million, which was the fee that Wanderers paid for former favourite, Nicolas Anelka.

At that time, Gary Megson had been given a reasonable amount to spend. Fabrice Muamba had already been signed for £5 million, whilst Gretar Steinsson, Gary Cahill and Matt Taylor arrived the previous season for fairly large fees (well they seem large now looking back).

Despite a heavy amount of expectation, Elmander didn’t disappoint on his debut. Against a tough tackling Stoke City, Elmander scored a fine header to help Wanderers to a 3-1 win.

However, his strong debut wasn’t a sign of things to come.

Elmander managed to score just five times in his first season at Wanderers. Having scored his last goal in December, his goalless run ran into the following season. The Swede went a whole nine months before his next goal, which came in the last minute of extra time against West Ham United in the League Cup.

History repeated itself in the 2009/10 season, as Elmander only managed five goals again. He was outscored by Gary Cahill, Matt Taylor, Ivan Klasnic and Kevin Davies.

In his final season at The Reebok, Elmander showed a glimpse of the goalscoring prowess that Wanderers fans had imagined when he signed.

Elmander scored twelve times as Wanderers reached the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup. His goals early in the season helped to put Bolton on the fringes of the UEFA Cup places. Elmander’s most memorable Wanderers highlight also happened during his final season.

At Molineux against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Elmander managed to wriggle his way out of several challenges to score the most mesmerising solo goal. It was a look at the talent Elmander clearly possessed, but rarely showed.

After 22 goals in 108 games, Elmander left Wanderers to join Turkish side Galatasary on a free transfer in 2011.

Whether it was the pressure of being the clubs record signing or the fact that Elmander wasn’t a prolific goalscorer like Anelka was, but it just didn’t work out for the Swede at Bolton. Whilst you could admire his vigour and work rate to an extent, fans expected Johan Elmander to replicate Anelka’s goalscoring abilities. He just wasn’t that kind of player.

As he has been for ten years, Elmander will continue to be Bolton’s record signing. At this moment in time, it’s inconceivable that Wanderers will ever break that record.

For now, we await the day when Wanderers finally get to spend again.