Preston North End are in talks with young prospect Lewis Leigh over a new professional contract that would commit his long-term future to Deepdale amid transfer interest, according to the Lancashire Evening Post.
Leigh is a player in-demand this summer with him only having one year left to run on his scholarship deal with Preston, although there is an option for a further 12 months to be activated by the Lilywhites in that deal.
The 17-year-old managed to make the matchday squad for Preston in the Championship once last season against Millwall and that shows how highly-rated he is within Deepdale.
He has been impressing in pre-season and has featured for the Lilywhites against the likes of Bamber Bridge, St Johnstone, Bolton Wanderers, Accrington Stanley and Wigan Athletic.
Quiz: What was the score the last time Preston North End played at each of these 24 stadiums?
It has been reported that Leigh is on the radar of the likes of Everton, Arsenal, West Ham and Leicester City this summer as they aim to poach one of the Lilywhites’ most promising young talents.
However, according to the Lancashire Evening Post, Preston are now keen to tie him down to a professional contract that would warn off the teams that are interested in his services.
This is a very sensible approach from Preston and they must do everything that they can to convince Leigh that his long-term future is best served by him signing a professional deal with them.
It does seem like he could be handed the chance to make a major impact on the first-team next season in the Championship if he does remain at Deepdale given his pre-season involvement.
The 17-year-old is one of the most talented assets to have emerged through Preston’s academy in the last few years and it is vital that they protect such an asset by ensuring he is under a long-term deal.
That would maximise the amount of any future transfer fee that they could receive for him should he continue to catch the eyes of Premier League clubs.
Obviously, a potential move to the likes of Everton, West Ham, Arsenal and Leicester City is going to be very difficult for Leigh to ignore.
However, his long-term future might actually be better served staying with Preston for at least another season so that he can potentially get lots of valuable first-team experience under his belt.