Ian Evatt has confirmed that the 25-year-old, signed from Barnet in the summer, is putting the final touches to a new deal which will see him tied to the UniBol way beyond the summer of 2022.
Santos has played every minute of Bolton’s League Two campaign so far and after a difficult start as part of a back three, he has since recovered to become one of the Whites’ most consistent customers.
Wanderers are now looking to protect their asset – who is being monitored by at least two leading sides from the division above – and use him as a foundation to build a team for the future.
“We are being proactive,” he said. “We’ve really got our house in order now and we know what we’re doing.
“We want players like Rico who can grow with the club. Even the loan players were brought in with an eye on the future and are the right age.
“The ones we are trying to bring in are ones we think can progress on the journey I, the board, the staff envisioned. And we think the ones we brought in during January can certainly do that.”
Speaking yesterday about the progress on the deal, Evatt said he did not expect any problems: “From what I understand it’s just the final details. We’ll have an announcement soon – well, I hope so anyway.”
Wanderers host Evatt’s former club Barrow on Saturday and are looking to put five consecutive victories together for only the third time since 2013.
Phil Parkinson’s promotion-winning side twice strung five league wins together in 2016/17 but you have to go back to Dougie Freedman’s first season in charge for the previous occasion that happened at Bolton.
For Evatt the match holds special significance after his two years in charge of the Cumbrians, which ended this summer after their return to the Football League.
“It’s a special game obviously because of what I achieved there last year and what we achieved as a group together,” he said. “They were fantastic times and it helped me get this opportunity at Bolton Wanderers, so I’m ever so grateful to everybody there.
“The supporters were fantastic and the club in general was fantastic and I genuinely wish them all the best. I want them to do really well, obviously Saturday aside.
“It’s emotional for me but it isn’t emotional for everybody else and we have to make sure that emotion gets taken out of the game and we plan for it like we would any other and the players understand that this is just another game of football, another opportunity to go and win a game, play as well as we can and get the right result to progress us up the table.”