Conor Bradley has made a promising start to life at Wanderers, but the move has actually been years in the making.
The Northern Ireland joined the Whites on a season-long loan from Liverpool over the summer and impressed in the 3-0 win against Wycombe over the weekend.
Evatt had already revealed that the youngster was a top target in January but the club was unable to get a deal done at the time.
But the Bolton boss has now explained that Bradley has been on his radar for many years due to his connections in Northern Ireland.
He said: “I did my pro-licence and all my coaching licences in Northern Ireland and very early on the relationships there were saying, ‘Conor’s one to keep an eye on’.
“We started watching him and were very impressed with what we saw. Last January we tried to get him but he was very much in Liverpool’s first team plans.
“Then, the opportunity became available this summer and we grabbed it with both hands. There’s a long season and a long way to go but we’re really pleased with what we’ve got so far.”
Evatt believes Wanderers is a good place for Bradley to learn and continue his development after making several first-team appearances for Liverpool last season.
He added: “Going back to the recruitment and the work that myself and Chris Markham and the analysts do, when you’ve got a philosophy and identity, it becomes easier to recruit to.
“We know the way Jurgen (Klopp) and Liverpool coach their full-backs and wing-backs is very similar to what we require from ours, so it’s automatically a good fit.
“It’s a good fit for Liverpool because they know he’s going to come here and be played and taught the same way.
“And also a good fit for us because we don’t have to work on him from scratch and from day one – he’s already used to doing it and I think we’re seeing the benefit of that.”
The Bolton chief reckons Bradley has the potential to go far in the game but insists it will only come with lots of hard work on and off the pitch.
“His athletic profile is perfect for that position,” he explained. “He obviously needs to do a lot of work in the gym but he is 19 years old and that is going to come as he grows and develops as a young man.
“But to get to that elite level and the top of the game – Liverpool and international football, Champions League – he has to be the best or one of the best in that position. He has the potential to be, but it’s only potential at the moment.
“It’s about realising that potential. But the most important thing for me is his attitude and work ethic, and if he keeps that up and stays humble, he has got a really bright future.
“He needs to constantly improve all aspects of his game, but he does and he works on it relentlessly, so we are really pleased with him.
“We are not surprised at all because we do a lot of due diligence on these players and our relationship with Liverpool is a strong one, so we are pleased and hopefully he will continue to develop throughout the year.”
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