Bolton midfielder Kevin Nolan has been linked with a move to Liverpool. Nolan is Bolton’s longest-serving player – from when they still played at Burnden Park – but after spending the last few games on the bench for Bolton is now talking about moving away from the club.
With Bolton being desperate to try and hold on to Liverpool’s El Hadji Diouf – on loan from the Reds – the stories now circulating are that Nolan could be used as part of a swap deal.
Nolan is 22 years old and Liverpool is his hometown club. In fact the midfielder played on schoolboy forms for Liverpool at one point but was released by the Reds.
Sam Allardyce has denied the stories, and Nolan himself says he wants to be involved in Bolton’s first season in the UEFA cup next season. Nolan signed a new contract last Autumn which actually keeps him at Wanderers until 2009. By missing the last three games though Nolan is upset, and says he hasn’t been told why he’s been dropped: "I’m a bit sore with not playing in the last three games. It has been very hard to take. There have been no explanations. I can’t get my head round it but, hopefully, by the time the new season comes, I can start afresh and play in the first game. There has been a lot of speculation about me moving but, as far as I know, I’m going to be a Bolton player next season. I’m happy with that, I enjoy being here and I love the club."
He’s a Liverpool fan though, and although Bolton are a club he wants to stay loyal to, a call from Anfield would certainly turn his head: "Liverpool are probably the only club I would move to from here because of my love for that club. I don’t want to be speculating because Bolton are doing well but I thought I was playing well enough to stay in the side."
Nolan is frustrated that his time on the bench has coincided with all the talk about possible deals: "Since all the speculation came around, I’ve been on the bench and that’s the most disappointing thing. I’ve got to bite my lip and get on with it. I’ll see what happens in the summer and, hopefully, I’ll be a Bolton player next season. It’s one of those things but I don’t know what I have to do to get into the side."
Nolan has been at Bolton since 1997 when he joined their academy aged 15. He’s been in the first team since he was 17, and was overjoyed when the Trotters got into Europe: "It’s fantastic that Bolton are Europe but I just can’t believe that there was no champagne in the dressing room. We’ll have to have a word with the chairman. The sports science lads had all their drinks out but no champagne."
Bolton could actually finish above Liverpool – both clubs are level on points with one game left – but where Liverpool fans are disappointed to only be in the UEFA Cup places, for Bolton it’s an excellent sign of progress: "We set out this year to improve on finishing eighth last season and we are guaranteed to do that. It won’t really sink in until we get home to our own fans against Everton next Sunday. It would have been nice for that to be a crunch game for a place in the Champions League but it wasn’t to be and Everton have been fantastic all season. I think they deserve it. I always hoped that if we didn’t get the place then Liverpool would because I’m a Liverpool lad."
Bolton have moved on a great deal since they moved to the Reebok stadium, and Nolan has seen this progress first hand: "I’ve had the longest view of what has happened at Bolton as a player because I was at Burnden Park when I started. It is just phenomenal the way we have come on. I can’t believe the strides the club have made. They have been only one way and that’s forward. Sometimes a club have to take a step back but we haven’t done that, we’ve just got stronger and stronger. Hopefully that will keep going on for the next five years. We had a five-year plan when the gaffer started and it’s all come true for him so, hopefully, the next five years will be as good."
Liverpool have thrived in this year’s Champions League on their ‘underdog’ tag – and Bolton have done the same in the Premiership: "We finished eighth last season but a few people still made us one of the relegation candidates when we came back for pre-season. But we started off on fire. We’ve been in the top six for most of the season and it has been fantastic to be in the top half. And we’ve shut the critics up. We had to go through that slump at Christmas. But the lads knew that once we won at Birmingham in January, the pressure was taken off us all. You could see the joy on my face when I scored in that game and we haven’t looked back since."
He continued: "I don’t think Bolton supporters will ever forget what we’ve achieved for the club. This squad have put Bolton on the map and we want to stay there for years and years."
If Liverpool do show interest in Nolan though, he might find it tough to resist.