When supporting a team like Preston, you learn to accept that transfer windows come with losing players.
The vultures are regularly circling. In 2018, we lost both Jordan Hugill and Greg Cunningham to Premier League clubs. We’ve endured a number of sagas involving players leaving Deepdale over the years, and another one is on the horizon.
We’re all aware of Callum Robinson’s contract situation by now. He has just one year left on his contract, meaning that this is really the last chance to cash in on him.
The 24-year-old excelled with 13 goals and three assists this season, even with four months out through injury. Not only was he North End’s main goal threat, but he had also shown real progression in terms of creativity and decision-making.
That means that a host of clubs will surely be interested in signing him, and The Sun noted in November that Bournemouth like him. The situation leaves North End in real limbo.
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Selling Robinson for a fee around £10million to £15million would surely boost Alex Neil’s budget. Reinvesting some of that cash on two or three more ‘Brad Potts-esque’ signings – players with potential and immediate quality in the £1million to £2million bracket – may really give North End a lift.
The likelihood is that, even if North End stand firm, Robinson will leave next summer for absolutely nothing. We didn’t take that risk with Jordan Hugill, would we really take that same risk, this time with even more money on the table? North End are one of the most financial responsible Championship, so risking losing an eight-figured-rated star for nothing may not be in the plans.
Yet with next season’s Championship set, it doesn’t look the strongest batch of teams ever. On paper, it currently looks wide open. North End, with almost everybody fit and firing, racked up 12 unbeaten games, and beat champions Norwich. That was without Robinson even being available.
Add Robinson back in and make a couple of smart signings, and there’s no reason why North End can’t push for promotion. Preston shouldn’t fear anybody in the promotion race next season. Would that tempt North End into taking a risk on Robinson’s future?
Winning promotion may tempt Robinson to stay. Miss out, and he’s certainly gone for nothing. There wouldn’t even be a guarantee that he’d stay; Ryan Fredericks still left Fulham for West Ham last summer, for example.
Robinson is unlikely to sign a new deal at Preston, barring an unbelievable pay rise. Ideally, adding another year onto the deal but having some sort of release clause may be ideal, protecting North End’s financial interests but ensuring that Robinson can move on if we miss out on promotion again.
We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s a situation that seems up in the air right now. Let’s hope he stays, but when it comes to his exit, there are so many possibilities – and it remains to be seen what North End choose in this tricky situation.