'Too good to turn down' - How City beat West Ham and Brighton to midfield talent

Bolton Wanderers' Regan Riley during the EFL Trophy match at Montgomery Waters Meadow, Shrewsbury.

Regan Riley in EFL Trophy action at Shrewsbury for Bolton earlier this season - Credit: PA

Bolton boss Ian Evatt felt Norwich City's offer for midfield talent Regan Riley was 'too good to turn down' - with fresh reports that West Ham tried to hijack the deadline day deal.

The Canaries are understood to have paid around £200,000 for the 18-year-old, with potential add-ons to follow if he should progress in the senior game, for a player who was still on scholarship terms with Wanderers and yet to sign his first professional contract.

Brighton had also been keen on the League Two club's academy prospect, who had only made two senior appearances, but another Premier League suitor was in the mix as well.

Football Insider, which broke the news of Riley's imminent arrival at Norwich, have now also claimed that West Ham made a move late in the transfer window.

However, Riley had already had a successful trial with the Canaries and had his heart set on the move, speaking in his first interview about being impressed with City's academy success of recent seasons.

It wasn't enough to derail the Lancashire teen's move south and Bolton's manager felt it was a deal that suited all parties, with Wanderers in the bottom half of the League Two table after their financial troubles in recent years.

“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Evatt told The Bolton News. “Regan is a very talented young player with a fantastic attitude but sometimes we have to make a call.

"Norwich, in my opinion, offered us a very good deal for a player who has potential but it by no means the finished article.

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“To make this club sustainable – and that’s what we all want, we don’t want to be in the mess we have been in before – then we have to look at deals like that.

“In my opinion, it was too good to turn down.”

Riley has signed a deal until 2024, with the option for a further 12 months, and joins the academy prospects working towards a future in the professional game.

He was with Bolton since he was nine years old and made his debut as a 16-year-old, briefly as a substitute in a League One game last season. 

A regular in the EFL Youth Alliance for Wanderers' U18s, Riley came on in the 37th minute of a 2-1 defeat at Shrewsbury in the EFL Trophy group stages in October and was an unused substitute for two further first-team games earlier this season.

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