Wanderers are delighted to confirm the signing of Northern Ireland international Dion Charles on a three-and-a-half-year deal.
The Whites have paid an undisclosed six-figure fee to bring the striker to the University of Bolton Stadium from League One rivals Accrington Stanley.
Charles scored 20 times for Stanley last season as one of the most prolific marksmen in the division.
And the 26-year-old now gets the chance to add to his career tally with Wanderers as the club’s first cash signing since July, 2018.
Only four players scored more than Charles in League One last season, with his capture on the opening day of the January transfer window a major show of intent from Wanderers’ owners as they look to add to the quality at manager Ian Evatt’s disposal.
Evatt was keen to increase the firepower in his squad for the second half of the season and beyond and brings in a player with a proven track record and age on his side.
“Dion is a player I’ve been aware of for a long, long time,” said the Wanderers’ boss, who was a player at Blackpool when Charles was launching his career in the youth system at Bloomfield Road.
“He dropped into non-league but has proved and fought and got his way back into the system and into League One and scored a hatful of goals for Accrington last season.
“He was touted to have some really big money moves which, fortunately for us, didn’t come off.
“We have managed to get him over the line and bring him in as one of the first players we’ve paid money for in a long time, which is a huge statement of where this club is right now and credit must go to the board, investors and Sharon and everyone who has played a part in that.
“We are excited to have him on board. Dion is a finisher, has terrific pace, terrific movement and relentlessly runs in behind and works defenders.
“He’s a player that we’re really looking forward to working with and seeing what the future holds.”
After leaving Blackpool in 2014, Charles made the move to AFC Fylde to launch his first-team career at National League North level.
The Preston-born frontman was a regular goalscorer for Fylde to earn a move back into the Football League with Fleetwood Town two years later.
His game-time with the Cods was limited and after spells on loan at Halifax Town he returned to National League North with Southport when he was signed by legendary former Wanderers’ striker Kevin Davies in January, 2018.
In his only full season with the Sandgrounders, Charles scored 14 times in 41 league appearances to once again attract the attention of EFL clubs.
Stanley boss John Coleman pounced to take him to the Wham Stadium and after nine goals in his first season with the Reds – including one against Wanderers in November, 2019 – Charles took off in 2020/21 with 19 goals in 38 league appearances.
That form and finishing ability attracted the attention of Championship clubs but Wanderers have now won the chase to land the striker who scored his final Stanley goal in an EFL Cup tie against Rotherham in August.
Charles can’t be registered in time to make a debut at Rotherham this afternoon but arrives fresh and raring to go after not figuring for the Reds since September, having turned down the chance to extend his stay with Accrington beyond the end of the current campaign.
But he has played international football since, winning his sixth cap for Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in October.
And the goalscorer – who takes over the number 10 shirt – brings added pedigree to Evatt’s squad as the first of a number of anticipated new signings this month in Wanderers’ aim to keep building on last season’s promotion success and moving the club forward.