Dave Seddon's pressview: City signings are great business for Preston North End

Preston's unlikely ally in the last few days of the transfer window came in the shape of Pep Guardiola.

Saturday, 11th August 2018, 10:00 am
Updated Monday, 13th August 2018, 11:38 am
Lukas Nmecha

I say unlikely in the sense that trading between North End and Manchester City has not been common place in recent years.

Players were bought and sold from one another in the early noughties – Dickson Etuhu was bought by PNE from City and Jon Macken made the trip the other way a month or so apart in 2002.

Tyrone Mears came from City to Preston later that year, while in 2012 there was the curious loan signing of Harry Bunn who played just the one game in a PNE shirt before heading home.

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Trading recommenced this week, the loan deals for Brandon Barker and Lukas Nmecha announced less than 48 hours apart.

The arrivals of Barker and Nmecha for the season have captured the imagination of the majority of Preston fans.

They are young lads at slightly different stages of their careers, looking to take the next step.

Barker is older at 21 and this is his fourth loan spell, having been briefly with Rotherham before longer stays at NAC Breda and Hibs followed.

Nmecha, 19, briefly tasted first-team football with City last season – in the League Cup and Premier League.

Rated highly at the Etihad Stadium, a full campaign of first-team football is seen as part of the process of turning potential into a City regular of the future.

The Championship is set to be a demanding learning experience for the pair.

At the same time, they can really help Preston’s cause.

Barker is described as ‘quick and direct’ by Alex Neil, perhaps different to what else is available in the North End squad.

You might liken his pace to that of Tom Barkhuizen but their style on the ball does differ according to Neil.

Nmecha can hopefully bring goals to the table, be that goalscorer who PNE have long desired.

That was the expectation on Sean Maguire until his hamstring injury, one which he should return from by the start of October.

Both players will be well coached by Alex Neil who has nurtured North End’s young talent well over the past year.

Perhaps that appealed to City when it came to where to loan out the pair?

Certainly in Nmecha’s case there was some strong competition for his services on loan – some of those in the chase were stunned when they heard Preston was to be his destination.

It could be that he will get more game time here than at some of the others where he might have just been another body in the squad.

Whatever was in City’s thinking, Nmecha is in the PNE squad with No.45 on his shirt.

His arrival on Thursday lunchtime brought to a close North End’s shopping in the transfer window.

The loan market remains open until August 31 but in terms of the main window, they finished at seven new recruits.

You could describe the window from PNE’s point of view as having a busy start and end, with a quiet middle.

Business done early on does tend to get disregarded when all the focus is on what happens at the end – that has always been a gripe of mine.

I would wager it having been a decent window as a whole for North End.

Five permanent deals were done by mid-June, with Ryan Ledson, Jordan Storey, Michael Crowe, Graham Burke and Andrew Hughes.

Of those, Hughes was the one starter against QPR, with Ledson coming off the bench later on. Burke was an unused sub, Storey and Crowe not making the 18.

The quiet mid-section gave way to the double City deal and it will be all eyes on the team sheet at Swansea to see how they are used.

What is missing from the North End shopping is the target man they desired.

It might be that is revisited before August 31, although that might be dependant on a couple of outgoing deals.

Once Maguire was ruled out, the need for a striker more in his mould became greater than a target man.

Having both would be ideal, Neil wanting different options up front.

For now it is Nmecha and Louis Moult as options to play up the middle, with Callum Robinson and Tom Barkhuizen able to play there too.

Looking at the transfer window as a whole, it was all a bit strange and fractured this summer.

While I could understand the thinking behind the early close of the window, with Premier League managers wanting to start the season without the distraction of still doing business, maybe this was the wrong year for the change.

The World Cup stretched into the middle of July, with the market at the top level only really cranking into life after that.

So for a lot of clubs, all the business has been crammed into a three-week spell.

The EFL tagging the loan window on was sensible but almost rendered Thursday’s deadline as pointless.

Miss out on a player and there’s the option of getting them on loan.

Many other countries still have their window open until the end of August, leaving clubs here vulnerable to offers for players,