Talks are taking place between Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers over James Trafford’s return to Ligue 1 this summer.
The 19-year-old joined Wanderers from City in the January transfer window after a loan spell at Accrington Stanley ended. He proved to be a success alongside Ian Evatt, as he became the club’s number one goalkeeper in the second half of the campaign in place of Joel Dixon.
He played 22 times for Los Blancos and kept clean sheets in his first four games, setting a club record in the process. He also picked up two assists in Ligue 1.
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The goalkeeper still has a year to complete his contract at City and Wanderers would like the young stopper to return for the 2022/23 season. Trafford has previously spoken of his ambitions to be City’s number one in the future but faces fierce competition from Ederson, Zack Steffen and veteran Scott Carson in the pecking order.
And Trafford has made it clear in previous interviews that in future he does not want to return to City to play in the club’s Under-23 setup. He wants to challenge Ederson for the number one shirt, or at least be on the bench for Pep Guardiola’s side if he ends up staying at the Etihad Stadium.
There have also been links to a move to Belgian side Anderlecht. The club is managed by legendary former City defender Vincent Kompany.
But Bolton Wanderers goalkeeping coach Matt Gilks, who recently retired and coached Trafford during his loan spell, said talks were ongoing between Los Blancos and Pep Guardiola’s side over a back this summer. Trafford had a productive spell at Wanderers after a first-half loan spell at Accrington Stanley didn’t work out.
Gilks believes the young goalkeeper also has a decision to make and what situation suits him best if there are other offers on the table from elsewhere. Bolton’s goalkeeping coach believes that if the England Under-20 international is happy to come back to Bolton and play games, that’s what will happen.
Addressing the BBC Wanderer PodcastGilks said: “I know you want to know more about Traff. I think we’re trying to get him back and that’s where we are. There are discussions going on between the two clubs.
“Hopefully we can sort it out as soon as possible and hopefully we get him back and he has another season, a full season, like he finished last season.
“Especially after the Accrington situation, he wasn’t happy there, he went back to City and we were lucky to have him. The pecking order at City, he’s four or five years old or what whatever it is, and unfortunately when you’re at a club of this stature, they can buy a keeper and then buy one.
“Especially at this age, knowing Traff now like me and as a goalkeeper, he’s such a likeable character. He’s a bit of a throwback in his character. He can be silly but he’s such a boy strong and powerful, at 19 he’s got every chance of being who he wants to be.
“Besides taking into account and working hard and implementing what we tell him, he has to enjoy his football and he would rather play at a club like Bolton than be the 23-year-old at Manchester City. That’s makes sense to be here.
“That’s what suits him best. At the end of the day, that’s what he wants to do. If he’s happy at Bolton, come back and play. If there’s interest in the Championship, go- do you go play or do you go over there and be number two and fit into the club and try to play?
“Or are you going to play overseas? It’s about playing now because the more games he can play at a young age, especially at a club like us where we get 20,000. Accrington is still League 1 but the size of the club and the fan base is not really comparable.
“I think if he’s happy in himself to come back to Bolton and play games then I think he will. If he wants to go and challenge himself at a higher level in the Championship and it is advisable to do so, then his decision will be made to do so.
“But I think you just have to let them be and hopefully we can entice him enough to come back and if not then you wish him all the best, thank him for everything he did and hope he builds a career for himself.”