Dave Seddon's PNE press view: Change of direction for Preston in the transfer market

Preston North End managed  to keep their first piece of incoming transfer business in nine months pretty quiet until flying it on to the radar.

By Dave Seddon
Saturday, 3rd October 2020, 12:30 pm

Once upon time the first image of a new signing was the obligatory ‘scarf’ photo, player stood at stadium or training ground holding up the colours of his new club.

In the social media age, clubs try to think outside of the box more, something they did when announcing the arrival of Emil Riis Jakobsen on Thursday.

A few seconds of video showing a jet taxiiing towards a private terminal at Manchester Airport was published on Twitter by North End as a taster.

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Preston North End manager Alex Neil

Following on from that was a ‘welcome to PNE’ message for Jakobsen and confirmation the striker had signed from Danish club Randers on a four-year deal.

After a long hibernation from the transfer market, it was a great way to emerge.

For the Lilywhites, the signing of Jakobsen was a change of direction, a step back to when PNE shopped abroad – David Moyes used to, Craig Brown too.

The Dane is the first player signed from an overseas club in a permanent transfer since Keammar Daley in 2011.

PNE's new signing Emil Riis Jakobsen

Jakobsen’s countryman Simon Makienok came from Sicilian club Palermo four years but that was a loan.

The markets North End have shopped in over the last few seasons has been the British and Irish ones.

Supporters have often asked why this has been the case, the topic raised several times at fans’ forums.

The answer always came back that they were more comfortable with the domestic market and could judge better how a player would fit in.

Buying home grown has had its successes when you think of Callum Robinson, Jordan Hugill, Greg Cunningham, Alan Browne, Ben Pearson, Ryan Ledson, Daniel Johnson, Declan Rudd, Paul Gallagher, Tom Barkhuizen and Jordan Storey to name but a few.

However, while the domestic market is not drying up in terms of players being out there, the cost of what is needed to push North End on has reached a level where it is stretching them.

There is still scope to look lower down and bring in players for the future.

But for the here and now, players who could lift the quality are proving to be very expensive – hence looking abroad where sometimes the transfer market isn’t quite so pricey.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not a bargain bucket out beyond these shores.

For example, the price tag PNE were quoted for Seattle Sounders striker Jordan Morris was way beyond anything they could pay – many clubs in the Championship would struggle to get near it.

Generally though, the figures for wages and fees for players coming from Europe can be a little more in line with reality.

Not that Jakobsen has come cheap, North End paying out around £1.2m for his services and no doubt a competitive wage but one which falls within the Deepdale salary scale.

They badly needed a striker and have done for a long while – the sales of Hugill and Robinson took many goals away.

Between now and the opening of the January transfer window, PNE have 19 games scheduled.

It is Saturday-midweek all the way through, bar the two international breaks.

They couldn’t possibly have got through with Sean Maguire and Jayden Stockley as the only two strikers, with the option of moving Tom Barkhuizen centrally.

It might not be that Jakobsen is thrust straight into the spotlight, with him only meeting his Preston team-mates for the first time on Friday morning.

All being well, we will get a look at him in some capacity at Brentford.

What Jakobsen will bring is a freshness to the squad, in that he is a new face.

Players often say that a new arrival at the club sparks that little bit extra during training sessions.

Until Thursday night, PNE hadn’t done business since early January when Scott Sinclair was signed from Celtic.

Before that, it was the summer of 2019 arrivals of Patrick Bauer, Tom Bayliss and David Nugent.

If a mild sense of staleness had set in, the sight of a new face around the training ground would be welcome.

Jakobsen coming in might lift some of the frustration from Alex Neil’s shoulders.

We know transfer windows aren’t his favourite times of the year, the PNE boss has always been up front about that.

But there a real sense that the lack of movement until now was needling him.

Questions on possible transfers tended to be batted off in press conferences with answers of only a few words.

Whether one signing will make the difference in terms of starting to push up the table, only time will tell.

At least there is another option up front and Jakobsen fits the mould of how Neil likes to set up.

He’s got the height to compete in the air but it is with the ball at his feet where the player believes he can show his best form.

Signing the Dane means North End’s squad quota has been reached.

Championship clubs can have 25 players above the age of 21 in their squads this season – and unlimited under-21s.

Things could change depending on how strong interest from elsewhere is in any of the PNE players.

We’ve had Rangers wanting Johnson, Bournemouth looking at Ben Davies – both made offers which under whelmed.

There is talk of Sheffield United eyeing Davies now and if that particular interest materialises into something stronger, there is the draw of the Premier League.

So the remainder of the transfer window – in its two parts – could yet be eventful.

Any deals going cross borders has to be done by Monday night.

Domestically, a week on Friday is the cut-off point for business to be done.