Much was made of North End’s striker pursuit over the summer, which really didn’t go to plan.
Alex Neil clearly wanted a physical striker to replace Jordan Hugill, but North End left it late to sign a forward.
Back in August, Preston snapped up Manchester City’s Lukas Nmecha on a season-long loan deal. As promising as Nmecha is, thrusting him into a key role may have been ambitious, in hindsight.
Nmecha wasn’t the only target though, as North End seemingly wanted Ivan Toney from Newcastle United too.
Peterborough United snapped him up on deadline day for £650,000 (Chronicle), marking something of a coup for the League One side.
After the deal went through, chairman Darragh MacAnthony took to Twitter (21:30) to claim that Preston made a late move for Toney. It was to no avail, as Toney seemingly picked a move to Peterborough instead, closer to hometown Northampton.
After patchy spells with Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe and Wigan, most Preston fans won’t have been too disheartened.
However, the 22-year-old has starred at Peterborough this season; his winner at Oxford on Saturday was his 19th goal of the season. It’s now 16 goals in his last 23 games for Toney, who started the season with just three in 20.
Toney didn’t exactly fit as a target man, but he’s quick and athletic like Nmecha, but a little more rounded right now. He does though fit the Preston profile, as a young player with real potential but overlooked at a bigger club.
Preston may well wish that a £650,000 deal had been done back in August, given his goal haul in League One. It would have been a punt at that point, but he is showing his class with the Posh.
With Nmecha heading back to City this summer, Toney may still be on the Preston radar. However, Peterborough are often tough negotiators for their strikers. See the likes of Jack Marriott, Britt Assombalonga and Dwight Gayle; all have gone for big money. For that reason, North End may now be priced out if they still want in-form Toney this summer.