Rangers have started negotiations with a number of Championship stars whose contracts are due to expire in the summer – two of them being Preston North End duo Daniel Johnson and Ben Davies, per Football Insider.
The Gers look to have sewn up the Scottish Premiership already as they hold a 21-point lead over their bitter rivals Celtic (who have three games in hand), and they’re planning for next season already as they try to secure early moves.
It is absolutely no surprise that Steven Gerrard seems to be back in for Johnson, after Rangers failed in a £1.5 million attempt to take the Jamaica international from Deepdale in the summer.
Johnson netted 12 Championship goals for PNE last season (transfermarkt) and is one of the deadliest midfielders outside of England’s top flight, and is yet to agree to a new deal at the Lancashire club he signed for six years ago.
Davies meanwhile has been a major target for Celtic for as long as September, but Rangers may end up swooping for him instead.
They’re well-stocked at centre-back with Connor Goldson, Filip Helander, Nikola Katic and Leon Balogun all very capable of performing to a high standard, but Davies could potentially be better than all of them.
If Rangers really are lining-up moves for the pair then there is absolutely nothing that Preston can do – due to the nature of their contracts both Davies and Johnson can agree deals without needing to involve their club and can move across the border for free in July.
This is not ideal at all for Preston, but they only have themselves to blame for not tying down their best assets.
The £17,000-per week contracts rejected by both Davies and Johnson were a significant move in this window, and Alex Neil would probably rather try and get a fee for them rather than receive nothing at all – as he’s trying to do with Celtic target Ben Pearson.
But with Rangers’ domestic season almost in the bag already, Gerrard will not be desperate to pay a fee for two players he could get for nothing in six months, so it looks more-than likely that PNE are going to be big losers in this situation.