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Earlier in the summer it looked as though left-back Ali Koiki could be moving to Sunderland, then a signing at Charlton Athletic looked likely but today he’s finally joined Bristol Rovers after it looked last week as if that opportunity was going to fall by the wayside.

Koiki was out of contract at Burnley and turned down the opportunity to sign a new deal that was on offer. Sunderland were the first club I became aware of having an interest but then, just over eight weeks ago, he was used as a substitute for Charlton in a friendly against Southend.

They looked all but certain to sign him but it was reported that they had concerns over a potential fee for him with Burnley entitled to a compensation payment and that led to him being linked with Bristol Rovers. He was expected to sign for them almost two weeks ago but the deal hit a snag with manager Ben Garner suggesting that it might not happen. That’s all changed now with him signing a deal with the Gas today.

Koiki first arrived at Burnley on trial in August 2016 and was quickly snapped up, becoming part of the youth team. He progressed from there with 2019 proving to be a particularly good year for him at Burnley. His form in the first half of the 2018/19 season in the under-23s earned him a loan move to Swindon for the second half of the season. It was an impressive loan too with some very good performances. In total he played fifteen league games with just two of those from the bench.

Back at Burnley, he started last season on fire for the under-23s, scoring goals for fun in a more advanced role down the left. He was involved with the first team and was on the bench on some occasions but come January he was hoping for another loan move which didn’t happen.

He’d have surely been part of our first team squad during Project Restart but had by then decided that he wasn’t going to sign the new contract on offer. At the age of 20, he was 21 in August, he’d decided it was time he should be playing some first team football.

That’s led to today’s news from Bristol Rovers and his new manager said: “We are delighted that we have been able to secure Ali’s signature. Ali is a player that we have tracked for a long time and he has the attributes that suit our style of play. From my conversations with him it was clear that he has the right attitude and determination to be a success here. Ali is a quick & powerful player who is defensively strong but who also provides a strong attacking threat. He will have the opportunity here to grow as both a player and a person in order to achieve his full potential.’

Koiki said: “I’m happy to finally be here and hope to hit the ground running. It’s good to see the project that’s happening around here, and that there’s a goal that needs to be achieved. It’s good for young players to have those around them who are their level and have the same scope as them.

We wish him the very best at Bristol Rovers.

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