Preston’s ties to Manchester United are well-known. Over the years, North End have swooped to land Red Devils youngsters, giving them playing time at Deepdale.
Outside of the big name in David Beckham following his loan move, the likes of Colin Murdock, Michael Appleton and Jon Macken all made the move, as did David Healy.
In more recent times, Ben Pearson, Liam Grimshaw and Josh Harrop all joined Preston. There hasn’t been a permanent signing from United for three years now, with Harrop the last one.
North End appear to have slowed down their recruitment from Premier League reserve teams, despite our best player – Pearson – coming from that route. With United now confirming a host of releases from their Under-23’s, could Preston be tempted to move for them in the hope of finding the next Pearson – a rough United diamond needing a chance?
Here are the nine young players leaving United this summer, with some making more sense for North End than others…
Kieran O’Hara – does tick some boxes as a North End target. He has been schooled at United, he has gone out and played regular first-team football at Macclesfield Town and Burton Albion, and he is a Republic of Ireland international. At 24, he still has some potential to be tapped into, and could offer real competition for Declan Rudd. A free transfer is appealing, but would surely only take place if Connor Ripley moves on.
Alex Fojticek – hard to see North End going for goalkeeper Fojticek. The Slovakian stopper is just 20, but his only first-team experience has been with non-league side Stalybridge Celtic. With Mathew Hudson’s deal extended, adding somebody like Fojticek doesn’t really make sense.
George Tanner – Tanner, 20, was born in nearby Blackpool and impressed on loan at Morecambe earlier this season. His loan to Salford City didn’t really work out due to injury and the global pandemic, but he has been a Championship target this season, with the Manchester Evening News reporting that Blackburn Rovers and Debry County wanted him. If Preston want a young right back to develop behind Darnell Fisher, Tanner may fit the bill.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson – once a promising talent under Louis van Gaal, Borthwick-Jackson has completely lost his way. The left back initially impressed in the United first team, but loans at Wolves, Leeds United, Scunthorpe United, Tranmere Rovers and Oldham Athletic have seen him drop off the radar. Preston could do to add a left back, but Borthwick-Jackson hasn’t shown the necessary quality.
Demetri Mitchell – Mitchell is a more likely target at left back. He fits the bill as a quick, attack-minded talent, much like Max Lowe – a player North End wanted last summer. The problem with Mitchell is that he has missed more than a year of action through injury, and it’s unclear just what conditiion he is in right now. The 23-year-old has bags of talent, but may be a gamble even on a free transfer.
Ethan Hamilton – 21-year-old Hamilton impressed in loan spells at Rochdale and Bolton Wanderers, but was patch in-between at Southend United. The Scot is a tall midfielder with strength and a great left foot, but North End are well-stocked in that area, so Hamilton surely wouldn’t be a target unless somebody goes.
Dion McGhee – a versatile talent who has played at left back, as a number 10 and as a right winger. McGhee has interest from the likes of West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Rangers according to the Daily Star. McGhee’s versatility makes him very appealing, and he still has plenty of room to develop at just 19.
Aidan Barlow – Barlow’s record in the United ranks is impressive; 26 goals and 10 assists in 64 appearances across Under-18, Under-19 and Under-23 levels. A loan spell at Tromso saw him score twice in seven games in Norway, and he has great versatility, playing as a striker, out wide or as a playmaker. Still just 20, Barlow could be fit well into Alex Neil’s front line given his ability to play different roles.
Largie Ramazani – Belgian attacker Ramazani is just 19, and possesses great pace. Predominantly a left winger, Ramazani smashed nine goals and two assists in 13 Premier League 2 games this season. His diminutive stature may be a concern in the Championship, but he could be a raw talent with skill and trickery, much like Jeremy Monakana in years gone by.