Patience paid off in Preston North End's pursuit of Scott Sinclair: How the Celtic winger was landed

Preston North End landing Scott SInclair was the culmination of an interest dating back six months.

By Dave Seddon
Thursday, 9th January 2020, 6:00 am
Scott Sinclair celebrates scoring for Celtic
Scott Sinclair celebrates scoring for Celtic

The Lilywhites first identified Sinclair as a target last July as they sought a replacement for Callum Robinson who had been sold to Sheffield United.

Celtic's asking price at the time was £2.5m and the winger's salary also had to be taken into consideration, the complete package beyond North End.

They asked about a loan but the Glasgow club were not open to that, nor Sinclair who wanted the greater security of a full-time move.

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Scott Sinclair after signing for Preston North End

Wind the clock forward to the present and things had moved on.

Sinclair, 30, hadn't got much game time in the first half of the season and his contract had run down to its last six months.

No longer could Celtic ask for the fee they had done in the summer - the difference between a contract having a year to run and six months left, is big in those terms.

PNE resurrected their interest in Sinclair at the end of last week.

Scott Sinclair scores for Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics

His agent is David Manasseh of Stellar Football Ltd, a company which includes Gareth Bale on its client list.

North End defender Paul Huntington is represented by Manasseh, Declan Rudd used to be, so he is well known to Peter Ridsdale, advisor to PNE owner Trevor Hemmings.

Sinclair was keen to listen when Preston made an approach, the move back south of the border and the chance of regular football in the Championship appealing to him.

In Celtic, PNE found a club excellent to deal with and willing to do business without any fuss.

Scott Sinclair challenges with Wayne Rooney playing for Wigan against Manchester United

The deal would have gone through quicker than the few days it did take had Sinclair not been in Dubai training with the Celtic squad during the Scottish Premiership's winter break.

Once terms were agreed and the deal done with Celtic, Sinclair boarded an Emirates flight to Glasgow on Tuesday, landing back that evening.

On Wednesday morning he called in at Celtic's training ground to collect his boots and say his farewells before driving down to Preston.

There was a welcoming chat with Alex Neil on his arrival, that building on earlier conversations with the PNE boss.

Then came the medical, the last part of which involved the now standard scans to detect any injuries.

Those scans were done on Wednesday evening and only when completed did the green light get pressed on the deal.

That is why North End were not able to announce the deal on social media until 10pm.

Sinclair plays on the left-wing or down the middle, his pace and eye for a goal just what PNE need.

It is a departure from the buying model of recent seasons when the younger end of the market has tended to be explored.

But his CV boasts 117 career goals in more than 420 first-team appearances (starts and coming off the bench) and that experience can do the world of good.

Sinclair played international football for England up to Under-21 level, he was in the Great Britain squad at the 2012 London Olympics.

There will be a lot of expectation on his shoulders, not least with his debut set to come in the Lancashire derby against Blackburn at Ewood Park on Saturday.

Tickets sales had sped along this week above the 5,200 mark and Sinclair's arrival could well see a rush on the remaining batch of the 7,397 allocation.

Status wise and the level Sinclair has played at, this is the biggest incoming transfer North End have done for some years.