Even when rumours of Josh Onomah started to circulate as we headed towards deadline day, fans were excited at the possibility of a Premier League midfielder joining the club. The 25-year-old has a great pedigree in the game having come through the ranks at Tottenham Hotspur, and has been part of two promotion winning sides whilst at Fulham.
Once the transfer was finally confirmed there was a sense of relief that we hadn’t been beaten to the signing by another club, but then there was a slight disappointment that the deal was only until the end of the season. Onomah is very highly rated and as he agreed with Fulham to end his contract early it meant Preston had no fee to pay The Cottagers.
He will add more of an attacking threat than our other midfielders, and should slot into a number eight role ahead of two deeper lying midfielders.
You would imagine he would be on a decent wage in comparison to the rest of the Preston squad having come from a Premier League side that he has been part of since 2019, and he would be an asset if he was tied down for the foreseeable future. However Onomah has only signed a deal until the end of the season. He has barely featured for Fulham this season, just 14 minutes in the Premier League. So it will take time for him to find his match fitness with us.
There is only 18 games left in Preston’s season. It could take half of them for Onomah to find his feet, and then if he does impress there would be plenty of other clubs awaiting his situation in the summer. The former England Under-20 World Cup winner may already have his sights set higher than Preston North End, but simply sees us as a way to get some minutes under his belt.
We have failed to add a valuable asset to the squad for the future. The transfer may not go so well, and then we can both go our separate ways, but obviously there is hope it does work out. We are basically helping Josh put himself back in the shop window so he can then consider his options in the summer, and we may end up losing him for free.
Lancs Live have suggested both parties are committed to a longer deal, but nothing is guaranteed. Six other clubs were said to be interested in the attacking midfielder and they are likely to be interested in the summer again.
It doesn’t solve anything long-term for us as well, and he joins the list of all the loan players (Alvaro Fernandez, Liam Delap, Tom Cannon and Troy Parrott) as ones who will be leaving Deepdale in the summer. There is also Robbie Brady, Greg Cunningham, Ben Woodburn and Daniel Johnson who are into the last few months of the contracts. More than likely all of those players will need replacing, and it is frustrating to see another signing just made on a short-term basis again.
Preston North End face yet another major rebuilding job in the summer, and whilst Onomah is an exciting signing to watch develop until the end of the season, it doesn’t solve any of our long-term problems, and sees us back to square one at the conclusion of the season.
It’s short sighted again from the board, and although there is a chance he could stay with us past this season, it would have made sense to invest in someone for the next few years, not just the next few months.