Press View: Preston North End don't have to sell Emil Riis but if they did it would provide opportunities
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PNE have been crying out for a 20-goal striker for years and last season Emil Riis became the first man in a long time to achieve the feat.
He was in fine form, netting 21 times in total, and is a force to be reckoned with when he is on song.
But as North End were awaiting the imminent arrival of the Millers for their Championship game on Tuesday night, rumours circulated that they had received a bid for their star striker.
There were reports of an £8m bid for the Dane, though the club have not confirmed that to be the case.
They did release a statement however, to say that no bids for any of their players have reached their asking price.
Hardly a fierce denial of any interest but it is the transparency that fans have been calling for, rumours were flying around about a key player and they addressed them, so on that front, it is well played.
North End deserve a lot of credit for their performance against Rotherham on the back of the disruption. If there was any disturbance to the build up you would not have known.
They were excellent on Tuesday night and did everything but score. Riis amongst the substitutes and came on for the last half an hour – and looked a threat.
He is a great option to have, and arguably should be starting, though at the moment is being kept out by Troy Parrott.
There has been a lot of growth on Riis’ part over the last 18 months. When he first joined the club he was full of confidence and was positive on the ball, that faded and he looked like a man drained of any sort of belief in himself.
Credit to Frankie McAvoy, he got the best out of the 24-year-old but that was in part by trusting him and giving him the time to come good.
He was in and out of the team a lot under Alex Neil and his former assistant gave him the consistency in selection and the backing to find his feet, and then some.
He was responsible for some of the best moments of last season, scoring a handful in the Carabao Cup early on when wins were otherwise hard to find, and then some memorable strikes such as his rocket from a tight angle against Luton Town or his volley in the final minutes against Bristol City.
He is a player that can get fans on the edge of their seat, he has electric pace and good power once he gets going – when he strikes the ball you sometimes think the net won’t be enough to stop it.
One criticism of the Dane is that he can be a bit hot and cold, if he is not scoring in games it is sometimes the case that he does not contribute much more and can be pushed out of the contest a bit.
That side of his game has been better of late, in part thanks to the strides he has made mentally, in coping with form and confidence.
The faith shown in him by McAvoy, coupled with good form under both he and Ryan Lowe, has matured Riis.
He now does not panic as much if he is not scoring, he knows they will come. It is this sort of improvement that will soon set him aside from most other strikers in the league.
To hit 20 goals is an impressive achievement for any forward, but this is an accomplishment by one who is still a bit rough around the edges.
There is clear quality to his game but also clear areas that can be improved, but you also back him to be capable of doing it.
His talent is not in question, he’s an excellent asset for the squad.
He is an asset to the business that is Preston North End and therefore he does have his price.
For a club like PNE to not take that approach would be reckless, even for the top clubs, every player has their price.
It isn’t an outlandish position to be in, instead it makes sense as every club would love to buy and sell players on for a profit, keep making money and hopefully also keep improving.
Any money made on the footballing side stays with the footballing side these days, a change from when Trevor Hemmings was in charge, instead budgets are a little stricter but what you make you can keep.
So there would be money to reinvest should Riis leave, but at this moment in time there is nothing close.
PNE have also put themselves in a good negotiating position, their No.19 has three years left on his contract so if they were to release him from it they would need compensating handsomely.
North End hold all the cards, they have a successful forward who is settled at the club and can ask for their price for him. If they get it, they can reinvest, if not, they crack on.
The Lilywhites are still in the market for another striker so selling Riis would be one step back in that regard, though with a deal potentially up to seven figures, it may then allow two steps forward.
With the transfer business done this summer, and indeed since Lowe took charge, you would have to assume that North End would spend wisely and strengthen should Riis depart.
But if he doesn’t off Tuesday’s showing, they’re not far off anyway.
They are only short of a couple more bodies to really solidify what could be a good push at a play-off place this season.