The signing of forward Jayden Stockley in January 2019 was a well-intentioned move by Preston North End, who managed to win the race for the then 25-year-old.
According to Exeter City’s statement at the end of the December, multiple sides had triggered his £750,000 release clause, a bargain deal for a man who had scored 16 goals in 25 appearances in the first half of the 2018/19 campaign in League Two.
Even though he showed his class in the fourth tier, many Championship sides would have been envious when the Lilywhites announced his signature.
However, this move didn’t really work out for Stockley, scoring eight goals and recording six assists in 71 games for the Lancashire side.
In January last year, he was shipped out on loan to Nigel Adkins’ Charlton Athletic in League One where he was able to get back into his old form and bagged eight goals in 22 appearances at The Valley.
He impressed Adkins so much that he pushed to secure a permanent move for the 27-year-old, a great achievement for Stockley considering the fact the Addicks’ current boss didn’t sign him on loan initially.
Lee Bowyer was the man to bring the forward in at first before the manager departed for Championship side Birmingham City.
Stockley is now likely to be heavily involved in a promotion chase with Charlton next season now he’s put pen to paper on a permanent deal.
Therefore, it wouldn’t even be a surprise to see him back in the Championship at some point, perhaps making Frankie McAvoy’s side regret letting him go for good this summer.
This is one of the reasons why Preston should go down a similar route this time and sign up Exeter City’s Matt Jay, who scored 18 goals and picked up seven assists last year.
20 questions about some of Preston North End’s biggest ever moments in their history – Can you score full marks?
Although many Preston fans will be wary of how Stockley’s move to Deepdale worked out, the club will have learnt a lot from the 27-year-old’s underwhelming time in Lancashire and could weaponise this to their advantage if they recruit Jay.
Remember, McAvoy was there by former manager Alex Neil’s side for the entirety of the new Charlton striker’s Preston career, so he will know exactly what went on behind the scenes.
Like many other sides in the Championship, their budget is likely to be reasonably tight with Covid-19’s effects on finances and the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules in mind.
And if they can tempt Exeter with an offer that doesn’t break the bank, they should make this investment in Jay and bring him to Deepdale this summer.
At 25, the Grecians forward is still yet to come into his peak and could potentially be an additional source of goals for a Preston side who had plenty of goalscorers across the pitch and no main man to rely on last season.
The likes of Ched Evans, Emil Riis Jakobsen, Scott Sinclair and Izzy Brown will all need to contribute in the attacking third next year – and the 25-year-old could join them in their quest to improve on their 49-league goal tally from last year.
Jay might be a little shorter than Stockley – but there’s a lot of parallels between the two. This shouldn’t deter Preston, because their signing of the latter was initially seen as a masterstroke.
Let’s hope there’s another contrast we can make other than in the height department though – in terms of how successful their spells were at Deepdale if the 25-year-old does make this move.