Interest in PNE frontman cools
The interest shown in Preston frontman Jordan Hugill by Championship rivals Wolves seems to have faded because of the uncertainty behind the scenes at Molineux.
Hugill was linked with the West Midlands outfit within a couple of days of the end of the season – there was talk of a £2m offer.
PNE sources said at the time it was more of a case of Wolves expressing an interest rather than putting in a bid.
Since then, the future of Wolves boss Paul Lambert has been thrown into huge doubt.
The head coach looks set to leave Molineux, with Lambert unhappy about how much of a say he will have in transfers.
Wolves’ Chinese owners Fosun are believed to want agent Jorge Mendes to have a big say on transfer policy.
It is believed that Wolves’ interest in Hugill was through Lambert, who was thought to favour domestic signings.
Should Mendes get the greater say, incoming deals would be foreign-driven.
Last summer, Mendes had a big involvement at Wolves with a number of signings from abroad.
Hugill, who turns 25 next month, finished the season as Preston’s leading scorer with 12 league goals and one in the EFL Cup.
The campaign was very much a breakthrough one for the striker in terms of starts.
Having made eight league starts the previous season, he started 35 Championship games this time.
Hugill was to benefit from Joe Garner’s sale to Rangers last August, so too the demise of Jermaine Beckford as a force in the PNE squad.
Mainly, he got the nod ahead of Simon Makienok, who is returning to parent club Palermo after his season’s loan at Deepdale.
Hugill has two years left on his contract. In January, he was subject of two failed bids from Ipswich Town, the first for £1.5m and the second for £2m.
Ideally, PNE want to be bringing in strikers during the summer to play with Hugill, rather than to replace him.
They are currently in the market for two forwards after the departures of Makienok and Beckford.
If Eoin Doyle leaves – the Irishman is on the radar of Portsmouth where he spent the second half of the season on loan – a third could be on the shopping list.
On the recruitment front, the Lilywhites have been in touch with Middlesbrough about Alex Baptiste, who spent most of the season on loan at Deepdale.
While injury kept him out for three months in the second half of the campaign, Baptiste impressed for the first half .
The defender’s future at Middlesbrough will become clearer when they appoint a new manager in the next few weeks.