Well, this isn’t what we expected to be writing on the eve of transfer deadline day.
Yes, we thought there was a chance Ben Davies could be on the move; this is the last chance Preston have to bring in any money for Alex Neil’s prized centre back.
Davies can walk away for free at the end of the season, and it looked like Celtic would be the favourites to secure his signature.
Now though, fresh reports claim that Liverpool have swooped in for Davies, and could sign him for just £2million in a shock deadline day deal.
This has predictably resulted in many Liverpool fans asking – who on earth is Ben Davies? Honestly, we understand; Preston aren’t one of the big-ticket Championship clubs, and never really get the attention deserved.
With that in mind, here’s a full profile of Davies – who he is, what he can offer to Liverpool, how he went from North End misfit to potential Anfield new boy…
Davies has come up through the Preston ranks having joined at the age of 11 despite being born in Barrow, and is now arguably the biggest success story of North End’s youth setup in recent times.
He made his senior debut way back in January 2013, under the stewardship of Graham Westley. Back then, Davies was seen as a left back – and that continued as he went on loan to York City for the 2013-14 season.
Davies excelled with York, and Simon Grayson decided to throw him into a left back spot on the opening day of the 2013-14 season, but he quite frankly looked like a rabbit in the headlights in that role, and it began to look like he wouldn’t make the grade at Preston.
Loan spells with Tranmere Rovers, Southport and Newport County didn’t really take Davies any closer to first-team action with Preston, but a 2017 spell with Fleetwood Town proved to be the catalyst for his Deepdale career.
Uwe Rosler deployed Davies as a left-sided centre back, and he hasn’t looked back since. Alex Neil trusted Davies with a role as a left-sided centre back in a four-man defence, and the growth in his game has been staggering.
Davies has gone from a kid who was torn apart by Jamal Campbell-Ryce in 2014 to one of the Championship’s top centre backs and one of the first names on Alex Neil’s teamsheet at Deepdale.
So what kind of player is Davies? Well, you only have to look at his height – 6ft 1in tall – to see that he isn’t the most physically imposing centre back of all time.
Davies makes up for that in many ways though. The first thing to look at is the way Davies progresses the ball out from the back. He’s a very elegant centre back with the composure to bring the ball out from the back and make direct, incisive passes – something we see from Liverpool defenders regularly.
The way Davies uses his body is impressive. Even when faced up with much bigger strikers – just look at Lucas Joao for Reading last week – Davies doesn’t sweat. He reads the game so well and uses his body brilliantly, meaning he regularly gets in front of strikers to win balls, meaning he is rarely physically dominated.
We’ve seen some bizarre comments on social media suggesting that Davies isn’t quick – we would implore those people to watch Davies in action.
Davies is rarely outpaced and truly glides across the turf, to borrow a phrase from Oli over at From The Finney. It barely looks like he even breaks sweat as he covers ground, and is comfortable being dragged out into wide areas as a result.
We ultimately understand some scepticism; Davies turns 26 this year and has never played above the Championship, so heading into a huge club like Liverpool is quite the step up.
Still, Davies has attributes that will make him appealing to the Reds; the pace, the ability to bring the ball out from the back, the ability to play as a left-sided centre back, which is desirable in the modern game.
At £2million, what do Liverpool have to lose? If he’s depth behind the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez when they return, then it’s great value for money. If he struggles at Anfield, they would likely have buyers queueing up to sign him for much more than £2million.
Preston are victims of Davies running his contract down, but we can’t begrudge him this. Davies has been outstanding for almost four years now, and having spent his entire career with North End, few can blame him for seeing a life-changing move to Liverpool and wanting to grasp it.
He isn’t a big name, it isn’t a big fee, and you won’t find any YouTube cut-ups of Davies set to dubstep, but he certainly deserves more respect than he has been given since the Liverpool rumours emerged, with Davies one of the Championship’s top centre backs and fully deserving of a Premier League switch.