Preston North End are set for an interesting summer in the transfer market following Ryan Lowe’s decision to release a number of senior players whose contracts are set to expire.
The likes of Scott Sinclair and Tom Barkhuizen headlined the retained list following the Lilywhites’ 13th-placed finish in the 2021-22 Championship season, meaning some sizeable salaries were coming off the wage bill.
What it also means is that Lowe has room to manoeuvre when it comes to new arrivals, and PNE have already been linked with a number of names who could potentially arrive at Deepdale in the next few weeks and months.
Let’s look at three early transfer deals that the club could do with the window set to officially open on June 10.
Quiz: Can you name which club Preston North End sold these 23 players to from the last decade?
IN: Gavin Bazunu
The position in North End’s squad that needs addressing most is the goalkeeper spot, with PNE not having a single senior stopper on their books going into pre-season next month.
Daniel Iversen’s loan deal from Leicester City has come to an end, whilst Matty Hudson and Connor Ripley were released by the club – not to mention Declan Rudd’s retirement a couple of months ago – it has left North End’s goalkeeping department non-existent.
The club need to get a deal or two over the line quickly, with one player being linked since April being Manchester City youngster Bazunu.
The 20-year-old Republic of Ireland international has spent the last two seasons in League One with Rochdale and Portsmouth, and he looks ready to make the next step now with a Championship outfit.
Local reports have indicated that the club will go down the loan route for a new number one this summer, so Bazunu ticks that box instantly, and even though there will be competition for his services, North End will be confident they can land him.
OUT: Tom Bayliss
Some things just don’t work out in football, and in the case of Bayliss, his time at PNE has definitely been a negative one.
There was a lot of excitement when the midfielder arrived from Coventry City in the summer of 2019, with North End splashing out a near club-record fee – thought to be between £1.5 million and £1.8 million – for the services of a youngster who had previously been linked with Everton and Liverpool.
Then-manager Alex Neil seemed reluctant to use Bayliss though, playing him just five times in all competitions in his debut season and then on just 15 occasions in 2020-21 – three of those coming under Frankie McAvoy
A loan move to League One side Wigan Athletic was supposed to see Bayliss get game-time and develop, but it didn’t work out that way and after just eight league outings for the Latics, he’s now on the transfer list at Deepdale.
Portsmouth boss Danny Cowley is reportedly a big fan of the 23-year-old and that’s a move that could end up occurring in the coming weeks – if Pompey can afford the fee that PNE would want.
IN: Andre Gray
Another area that PNE will need to look at strengthening soon is at the top end of the pitch, with the loan return of Cameron Archer from Aston Villa not a guarantee whatsoever.
Ched Evans and Sean Maguire added little in the way of goal threat this past season, and with Lowe making it clear that he wants to add Championship experience to his squad this summer, the potential addition of Gray ticks a lot of boxes.
The 30-year-old has been promoted with two different clubs to the Premier League and has changed hands for a lot of money during his time as a player, and most importantly scores goals – he got 10 of them on loan at QPR last season.
His Watford contract will not be renewed this summer, and having already been linked with a move to PNE a few weeks ago, Gray looks to be a realistic potential addition.