Preston have confirmed their second signing of the week, with Tom Bayliss arriving from Coventry City.
The midfielder follows hot on the heels of winger Andre Green, who signed on loan from Aston Villa on Thursday. Whilst Green is a only here for the season, Bayliss arrives on a four-year deal.
Bayliss, 20, is one of the most highly-touted Preston signings in recent memory. He’s emerged through the Coventry ranks, and is up with James Maddison and Callum Wilson as their top academy graduates, at least in the eyes of Sky Blues fans.
Linked with an array of Premier League sides, Bayliss has picked Preston. That’s surprised many, but he knows he will play first-team football at Deepdale, giving himself a shot at better development.
We understand the deal to be around the £1.8million to £2million mark, which would be a club record. It goes without saying that this is a major signing, but this deal also answers three massive questions.
Not all fans may have been asking these, but they were questions on the minds of some supporters not only worried about strengthening now, but
Would Preston reinvest the Callum Robinson cash?
Would Preston still invest in young players with huge potential?
Who is Paul Gallagher’s heir?
North End raked in just shy of £7million for Robinson, and some had worried just where that cash would go. After all, it took Preston a year to sign a £750,000 replacement for Jordan Hugill.
It may have taken a little longer than hoped, but a decent chunk of the Robinson money has been spent. Personally, it’s as much about the player it has been spent on, as it is in the fee itself.
That feed into the second point. The lifeblood of North End is bringing in young players and selling them on for huge profit. Yet with Hugill and Robinson gone, the talent pool has been chipped away at. Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Alan Browne will all have a year left on their contracts next summer. Without promotion, they’ll likely move on.
Once they’re gone, the pool of young players is ransacked. Jordan Storey and Brad Potts would fit the bill, maybe Josh Earl if he can regain some form, or Ryan Ledson if he can kick on. Yet in Bayliss, Preston have shown a desire to sign one of the EFL’s top young talents, knowing that he should make us a huge profit in years to come.
Bayliss also answers the question of Paul Gallagher’s heir. With questions over Daniel Johnson’s future, and Gallagher well into his 30’s now, finding his natural successor has been a worry.
Bayliss can step into that role as a progressive, ball-playing midfielder with a fine range of passing. He’s more mobile than Gallagher thanks to his age, but can develop his to become such a talismanic figure. We may just need Gally to teach him how to take a mean set piece though.
We’ve been critical of North End’s transfer business of late, but Bayliss ticks many boxes – and answers many lingering questions too.