Preston North End left it very, very late in the transfer window to secure two important bits of business, but it looks like they could have wrapped it up a bit earlier should they have convinced initial targets to come to Deepdale.
It was after the 11pm deadline that the Lilywhites announced two bits of transfer news to conclude their window, with Cardiff City forward Josh Murphy signing on loan and the highly-rated Northern Ireland international Ali McCann signed in a £1.2 million deal from Scottish side St Johnstone.
McCann is a midfielder whilst Murphy, despite being a winger by trade, will be expected to compete for a place up-front with numerous other players, but it turns out that North End did indeed go for a host of natural strikers that failed to get over the line.
Hampshire Live had already reported that PNE were interested in Southampton’s Michael Obafemi before he opted to join Swansea City on a permanent basis, and two more Premier League strikers were targeted in the final days of the window.
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According to the Lancashire Post, North End discussed taking Brighton & Hove Albion’s 22-year-old Swiss striker Andi Zeqiri on loan for the season – a player who featured nine times for the Seagulls last season in the Premier League.
On Monday though Zeqiri opted to sign for Bundesliga outfit Augsburg, so attentions then turned to a player that Brighton were on the cusp of signing in Slavia Prague’s Senegal international Abdallah Sima.
The 20-year-old scored 11 times in 21 league outings for the Czech side last season but after confirming his arrival at the AMEX Stadium, it was Stoke City who ended up securing Sima’s signature for the season and not North End, so they ended up going for Murphy instead.
North End obviously secured the signing of Murphy in the end but despite him playing through the middle on occasion for Cardiff last season, he’s very much like fellow PNE forwards Scott Sinclair and Tom Barkhuizen in the sense that he’s more of a winger.
The same could be said for one of the two Brighton targets in Sima who played a lot of his football for Slavia Prague on the wing, but Zeqiri is a natural striker and seemed to be PNE’s first choice going into the weekend.
A move to top flight football in Germany was obviously preferred though which meant that PNE were scrambling for other options, including Sima who would have been an exciting addition if not somewhat of an unknown quantity.
It’s perhaps no good knowing the identities of the players North End missed out on now as the transfer window is shut and deals have been done but they’ll be hoping the likes of Obafemi and Sima do not come back to bite them during the course of the 2021-22 season.