Nathan Baxter had a plan. And it was a good plan. The Chelsea Academy goalkeeper would join teams way down the pyramid, starting in the depths of non-league football, to gain exposure and experience that he would’ve otherwise never had in youth football — all with a view towards taking over from Kepa Arrizabalaga eventually in the Chelsea goal.
And he was reaping the rewards of that plan, earning plenty of rave reviews and even a few awards as he worked his way up the ladder, including practically a clean sweep of the season awards at fourth division Yeovil Town in 2018-19.
Alas, his loan journey would end the way it had ended for many others in the Loan Army over the years — for example, Jamal Blackman or Matej Delač — a free transfer at the end of his contract, which was confirmed last week.
We didn’t expect Baxter to stay a free agent for too long, and that’s indeed turned out to be the case, with the 24-year-old agreeing a two-year deal with Bolton Wanderers, who just missed out on promotion in League One this year, losing to Barnsley in the promotion playoffs semifinals. (Unfortunately, SB Nation’s Bolton blog has been silent for nearly a year.)
“I’m delighted to be here. After seven years of loans, this will be my first permanent move so I’m really excited. This is the right time for me. I’m at a good age and it will be good to feel like I’m here for the long run and not just for a loan.”
“[...] I had plenty of options, but I think coming to a Club where I can be number one and play at the top end of the table is what I want to be a part of [...] I’ve played a lot of football at a young age and had some great experience, including in this division. I’m excited about coming here after two seasons in the league above. My aim is to be the best keeper in the league for the best team in the league.”
-Nathan Baxter; source: Bolton Wanderers FC
Good luck, Nathan! I’m sure you’ll be a great success! Hopefully our paths will cross at some point in the future again.
Delighted to sign for Bolton Wanderers! Can’t wait to play in front of all the @OfficialBWFC supporters and have a hugely successful season.— Nathan Baxter (@NathanBaxterGK) June 19, 2023
A massive thank you to @ChelseaFC for helping me over 16 years. Particularly Neil Bath who went above and beyond to help me in my journey pic.twitter.com/mIJvutfhj3