Preston struck again on Thursday evening, tying up a major deal for Barnsley midfielder Brad Potts.
North End had already signed Josh Ginnelly and Jayden Stockley, but dipped back into the market again today.
It’s a deal that has been in the works for weeks now, but North End tied up a significant deal for Potts just hours after signing Stockley.
Potts, 24, is understood to have cost North End around £1.5million, signing a three-and-a-half year deal at Deepdale.
The ex-Blackpool man has hit seven goals and seven assists this season, and should provide another attacking midfield threat.
Some may wonder just where Potts will fit in. Thanks to his versatility, there are a number of ways he can be used; here are three of them.
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1. Right of midfield
Much of Potts’ football for Barnsley has been played on the right of midfield. With seven goals and seven assists there this season, it’s not hard to see his value in that role. Tom Barkhuizen almost exclusively serves as North End’s right-sided option, but Potts now brings something different. A strong runner but not blessed with Barkhuizen’s pace, Potts can tuck in off the right, allowing Barkhuizen to cut in from the left.
2. Number 10
Potts can also play as a number 10, in a role that is crucial to Alex Neil’s Preston side. Alan Browne’s endless running, timing of runs into the box and setting of the high press have been difficult to replicate whenever he’s missed a game. Graham Burke and Josh Harrop just haven’t filled that role in the same way. Now though, Neil does have another similar option in Potts, meaning Browne could be rotated more regularly. Potts could even, dare I say it, be Browne’s successor should the Irishman move on.
(The image above is clearly for when Callum Robinson returns from injury)
3. Right side of midfield three
Picking between Browne and Potts may prove difficult, so here’s a thought; how about both? This is unlikely as Neil rarely deviates away from a 4-2-3-1, but he did dabble with a 4-3-3 earlier in the season. Browne and Harrop worked ahead of Ben Pearson, but it didn’t quite work. Having two athletic runners either side of Pearson who can contribute going forward and defensively could be a much better fit though, so don’t rule this out entirely.