A number of Premier League strikers had loan spells with Preston, which didn’t go too well but helped them develop into top-flight players.
Joshua King, Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck all spent time with North End, with none of them having too much success. However, they’re still Premier League players, playing for Bournemouth, Newcastle United and Watford respectively.
The parallels with Lukas Nmecha were clear. Manchester City sent Nmecha to Deepdale last season, with high hopes for their young striker. Preston beat a number of Championship clubs to his signature, and fans were expecting a prolific season.
That didn’t really happen though. Nmecha ended the season with three goals and eight assists, which many felt was disappointing. He did though kick on considerably in the second half of the season, impressing as a winger rather than as a centre forward.
That late season form may have tempted North End into bringing Nmecha back for another year, but he had other ideas. Having switched his international allegiance to represent Germany, he was keen on a move to the Bundesliga.
Wolfsburg gave him just that, signing him on a season-long loan deal after featuring in Manchester City’s pre-season plans. The step-up from Preston to Wolfsburg seemed huge, and he’s endured a frustrating start to the campaign.
Nmecha has remarkably played just three minutes of first-team football for Wolfsburg. He came on as a late substitute in the opening day win over Koln, but hasn’t been seen since. In Wolfsburg’s last three games, he has been an unused substitute. Even in a DFB-Pokal tie against Hallescher, he wasn’t in the squad.
It’s early days of course, but Nmecha isn’t quite getting the first-team football he’d expect. The problem for him is that Wolfsburg have proven, experienced Bundesliga players across their frontline. Wout Weghorst, Dennis Ginczek, Admir Mehmedi, Josip Brekalo, Felix Klaus, Joao Victor and Renato Steffen are all ahead of Nmecha in the Wolfsburg pecking order.
There’s time yet for Nmecha to get going with Wolfsburg, but City won’t want him sat around doing nothing – and North End should maybe keep tabs on his situation with a view to pouncing if City recall him in January.