Preston North End transfer links round-up: Kosovo international on the radar, Manchester City keeper eyed and released winger attracting interest from Bolton, Rotherham and Derby

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A week or so on from the end of the season and the jungle drums have already started to beat on who Preston North End might be trying to recruit for the 2022/23 campaign.

Having released 13 players from the squad at the end of their contracts, the Lilywhites have vacancies to fill and will need to be busy this summer.

In addition to those freed, loan players Daniel Iversen, Sepp van den Berg and Cameron Archer have returned to their parent clubs.

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Quality over quantity will be the thinking at Deepdale, the squad having got far too big last season.

Bersant Celina in action for Ipswich against Doncaster RoversBersant Celina in action for Ipswich against Doncaster Rovers
Bersant Celina in action for Ipswich against Doncaster Rovers

North End have already been linked with players in the media as agents begin to do their work ahead of the summer transfer window opening on June 10.

Deals can be agreed before June 10 but only officially registered then.

One story to emerge over the weekend was PNE showing an interest in Kosovo international Bersant Celina who has spent much of his career in England.

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The attacking midfielder kicked-off his career with Manchester City, during which he had loan spells with Ipswich and Dutch club FC Twente.

A £3m move took him to Swansea in July 2018, North End having enquired for about him that summer – Alex Neil revealing that when he was PNE manager.

Celina left Swansea in September 2020 to join French outfit Dijon, with him then spending the season just finished on loan at Ipswich.

The 25-year-old has Championship experience from his time at Swansea, and it’s such experience that North End boss Ryan Lowe wants more of in his squad for next season.

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Lowe does have plenty of bodies in midfield already though, which might put a question mark against the Celina link.

But if he thinks it will raise the quality, Celina could be a name genuinely on the radar.

Other names to be linked with North End this week are Watford striker Andre Gray and Manchester City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.

Gray spent the season on loan at Queens Park Rangers, scoring 12 goals, one of them a late consolation from the penalty spot against PNE at Deepdale in April. The 30-year-old is out of contract at Watford this summer.

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Republic of Ireland international Bazunu was on loan at Portsmouth this season, making 44 appearances in League One.

The season before he played for Rochdale on loan.

North End’s cupboard is bare when it comes to goalkeepers, with Connor Ripley and Mathew Hudson having been released and Iversen back at Leicester.

So the Bazunu link seems reasonable although the 20-year-old has reportedly had Premier League interest.

In terms of those heading out of Deepdale, Tom Barkhuizen got some attention in the Sun newspaper on Sunday when three clubs were linked as possible destinations for him this summer.

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Barkhuizen was one of those released at the start of the week after five-and-a-half years with North End.

Rotherham, Bolton and Derby have been credited with an interest in the winger who played 209 times in a Preston shirt.

Having played to a consistently good standard at PNE since 2017, Barkhuizen should be one of the stand-outs in the Bosman market this summer.