Manager Brian Barry-Murphy is delighted to have secured the services of Tolaji Bola from Arsenal, having had to be patient in his pursuit of the left-back.
The 21-year-old has been on BBM’s radar for some time and the Boss says he’s a player that fits the profile of what they’re looking for.
“It’s fantastic. Tolaji was one of our high priority signings in terms of that role and position in the squad which was vacated when Rhys Norrington-Davies went back to Sheffield United at the end of last season. Tolaji was very, very high up on our radar, so I’m very, very pleased that we have managed to acquire him at such a late stage in the window.
And BBM said he was prepared to patient to secure his main targets.
“My mindset was always that the work the lads did behind the scenes, combined with the Club, was that we were very keen on adding quality over quantity. We could have gone straight into the market and added two or three players for every position and had been left at this point where we had plenty of players but not exactly what we wanted.
“I think it’s important that I acknowledge the players that we’ve brought in. They are exactly the ones that we wanted, which is unusual in my experience. We said we wanted this player and we actually got him - every one has been that way. That is testament to the work that has gone on behind the scenes - Callum Jones [Dale’s Head of Performance Analysis] and the group of lads have been relentless in their work, probably better than myself previously.
“In terms of the profiling the players, the key thing is that you can identify guys who 1) want to come to the Club and 2) to fit within the financial constraints of what we can offer. There was no time wasted in identifying players that we couldn’t afford, because we’re aware of where we are in terms of the food chain financially, but we have managed to secure players of a very high calibre, without increasing our outlay in terms of finance.”
The Boss says Bola is a great fit for the squad.
“He’s a very good addition to the squad in terms of a continuation of where were last season with Rhys Norrington-Davies. They’re not the exact same player but we have a specific profile that we want for that position and Tolaji definitely fits that bill.
“There is going to different bumps down the road for him as player coming into our environment from a Premier League Club. It’s not going to be easy in League One, but in very simple terms, he fits the profile of what we want to have in the squad and compliments the existing players that we have, amazingly well.”
And Barry-Murphy also acknowledged the work that the existing players have done so far this season.
“Tolaji has arrived quite late in the week but he’s available [for Saturday’s game at Accrington] and he’s fit. He’s been training and has played games with the Arsenal U23s team in the EFL Trophy, so he’s definitely in contention.
“But the lads have been performing amazingly well and it would be remiss of me to start focusing on him and not acknowledging how well the guys have done previously. That hasn’t been exhibited any better than by Matt Done, who has got into a position that he isn’t overly familiar with but has acquitted himself amazingly well with to put in two near perfect performances that have resulted in two brilliant performances [overall].
“I’m very grateful for him and for the existing guys here who have carried us so well, but we want to improve in all areas of the squad and this very much fits in with that.”