Ben Pearson believes his switch to Preston North End is the ‘perfect’ move as he looks to sample Championship football for the first time.
The 21-year-old midfielder joined PNE from Manchester United for an undisclosed fee yesterday and will be in the squad for the clash with Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
For the past 12 months, he was on loan with Barnsley in League One.
Returning from there to the Red Devils last week, Pearson decided the next stage of his career needed to be in a division higher.
North End’s interest ticked all the right boxes and it took him little time to agree to cut his links with United – a club he has been associated with since the age of nine – and pen a two-and-a-half year contract at Deepdale.
“Everything has happened very quickly and it can be a bit scary how fast things work in football,” said Pearson.
“I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted a permanent move somewhere.
“It just needed to be the right club and this is the perfect one for me.
“It is Championship football, which is what I needed and this is a family club where I already know some of the players.
“The manager has been great with me during the talks and it’s in the North West.
“I’m from Chadderton and I’ll look to get myself a place to live nearer to Preston.”
North End’s interest and move for Pearson was not a spur-of-the-moment thing.
They tried to take him on loan from United last season but the move did not happen.
Instead, he stayed at Old Trafford a bit longer before moving to Barnsley on loan this time last year.
Pearson stayed at Oakwell for the remainder of last season and then went back in the summer, the second loan coming to an end at the start of the month.
He said: “Preston looked at me last season and there was talk of me coming here in November 2014 but United wouldn’t let me out, they said I wasn’t quite ready yet.
“It was a bit of a kick in the teeth but a month or so later, I went to Barnsley.
“I’ve played a lot of games in the past 12 months which have helped me develop.”
North End re-ignited their interest late last week, with a deal done over the weekend and completed on Monday after he passed a medical.
Some players might have been tempted to stay longer at United in the hope of making the breakthrough there.
But having reached this age without playing in the first team, and with other players established in his position, a new start tempted him.
Said Pearson: “I had heard a few days ago about Preston being interested but I put that to one side and concentrated on training.
“United them told me that Preston had put a bid in and they were allowing me to leave.
“It started getting exciting then, I spoke to Simon Grayson on the phone and things went from there.
“To be honest, it was not much of a hard sell – I wanted to stay in the North West.
“After being on loan for the best part of a year, the fact this was a permanent deal was a big appeal.
“I spoke to Will Keane a couple of days ago, who only had good things to say about the club.
“From United I also know Sam Johnstone and Marnick Vermijl, while I also know Callum Robinson.
“The Championship is the next step for me, I have played more than 50 games in League One and enjoyed that.
“The only question was whether a move to this level would be permanent or a loan, so as soon as Preston came in with their offer, I couldn’t turn it down.
“I bring a lot of energy to a team, I’m good on the ball and I don’t mind a tackle. I like to get forward but something I need to improve on is my goal scoring. I don’t score enough.
“That is an area of my game which I want to work on.”
Pearson will get plenty of time to get to know his new team-mates this week.
The PNE squad are staying in the south after the Bristol City game, returning home after playing Ipswich on Saturday.
It will save a lot of travelling, with them doing likewise in October between the Charlton and Brighton matches.
Said Pearson: “It has worked out well and gives me the time to mix with the lads and get to know them.
“I know some of them but don’t know others. If you get to know people away from the pitch, it does help in the matches.”
Pearson’s time with United dates back to his days as a primary school kid.
“I played for a team called Boundary Park who were Oldham’s feeder club in the Under-7s and Under-8s,” said the midfielder.
“Then I signed for United at Under-9s and went through all the age groups from there.
“Paddy McNair was in my age group, so was Adnan Januzaj and Andreas Pereira, all lads who have broken into the first team but have yet to established themselves.
“James Wilson was the year below me but used to train a lot in our age group.
“United is a great club to be at and to get your football education at.
“Thinking longer term, there are players in my position at United who I’m not likely to get past.
“So I made the decision to leave and build my way up in the game in another way.
“It was a big decision when you’ve been somewhere for 12 years but it’s the right one.”