Preston North End finish summer transfer window on a high with deadline day double swoop
It was one big job this summer for Preston North End who, at the end of another long and testing transfer window, can certainly reflect on their work with a degree of content. Plenty of business was required from the Lilywhites, who left it late but managed to bolster Ryan Lowe’s threadbare attack with two deadline day additions.
The Lilywhites signed eight new players in total: six of those permanents and two on loan. The latter point is an important one, because there had been a sense of frustration growing on the terraces at PNE’s perceived short-term approach in previous windows. North End have shopped overseas for three players this summer, signed two for seven figure fees and broken their transfer record.
Their eight new recruits have an average age of 24.5, with Will Keane, Jack Whatmough and Duane Holmes bringing Championship experience to the table and a degree of robustness. Mads Frokjaer, Milutin Osmajic and Liam Millar head over from Denmark, Spain and Switzerland respectively, with the former two having the potential to become key assets for North End.
Not everything has gone PNE’s way. Calvin Ramsay was viewed as an important addition down the right, but the Liverpool loan man is sidelined for another six weeks at least - having not kicked a ball yet. And many will feel Preston are one short at left wing-back, but on the whole the feeling out there seems pretty positive, as North End head to Stoke to play in front of a sold out away end.
There was, of course, the failed pursuit of Tom Cannon - which was drawn out for weeks and weeks, only for Everton to change their tune on the striker in the final week. North End felt they had a loan deal wrapped up, but the Toffees held on to Cannon until the big bids started to come in. You would certainly struggle to criticise Cannon, who was great for PNE last season and - by all accounts - very keen to return to Deepdale for the vast majority of the summer. At the end of the day, though, Leicester City is an opportunity you can understand the forward jumping at. North End moved on quickly and executed their Plan B efficiently, which is all that matters.
And so, the madness is put on hold until January comes around. North End now have matches to win and some key contracts to sort out in-house, but for now they can reflect on a very steady summer effort. Wing-back remains a concern, but Lowe’s shift to a 4-2-3-1 shape in the comeback win over Swansea City calms that somewhat. Ramsay’s eventual return will be a big boost, if he can get himself fit and make his mark on the season.
Millar - a player, in his own words, who likes to run at defenders and dribble with the ball should help PNE operate with wide players and potentially a back four if seen fit. Osmajic is an unknown entity, but arrives with international experience, goals to his name in Portugal’s top flight and an imposing physical profile. He has a price tag to live up to and it will be intriguing to see how he fares.
Those two, though, mark the ideal end to a window in which North End - refreshingly - just did things a bit differently. This summer is being viewed positively by most fans and that’s because there has been variety and creativity to PNE’s work. Moaning and groaning has never been about North End not spending tens of millions of pounds. Preston were more inventive and now have more players of their own to show for it. Ending the summer on a whimper after 10 points from 12 would’ve been a great shame, but as the lights go out at Euxton, the buzz stays very much alive.