We all knew this would come, and it sadly seems like it could be a saga.
Callum Robinson was always bound to attract major interest this summer, having hit 12 goals and three assists this season. The 24-year-old has developed rapidly under Alex Neil, and looks ready for the Premier League.
With just a year left on his contract at Deepdale, North End are vulnerable when it comes to Robinson’s future. Attempts to die him down to a new deal have so far proven fruitless, and he may well be on the move.
Now, the Lancashire Evening Post report that North End have received an approach for Robinson. An unnamed Premier League club are though to have asked about a deal, but their valuation fell short of Preston’s.
It’s unclear just who made the move, so let’s dig into some possibilities…
Robinson and Villa go way back. The Republic of Ireland international came up through the Villa ranks, and he managed five first-team appearances for the club. After two loan spells with North End though, Villa decided to let him go. They received just £170,000 for his signature, and would now have to pay much, much more to get him back.
Dean Smith will know all about Robinson after managing in the Championship for over three years, and he may need a winger. Villa just let Albert Adomah go, and with newboy Jota and potential signing Anwar El Ghazi better on the right, there may be a spot on the left. Robinson would fit perfectly there, with shades of Ollie Watkins’ impact under Smith at Brentford.
We’ve all heard the rumour that Bournemouth want Robinson. It’s been going on since the start of the year, but the murmurs have died down a little. In truth, a Bournemouth move for Robinson may hinge on Ryan Fraser and Jordon Ibe. Fraser is wanted by major Premier League clubs, and may move on with just a year left on his contract. Meanwhile, Ibe could leave for first-team football elsewhere after a frustrating time with the Cherries.
Eddie Howe isn’t afraid to spend big on a Championship player. Lewis Cook, David Brooks, Chris Mepham and Lloyd Kelly have all made that move in the last three years. If Fraser or Ibe go, a spot may well open up for Robinson at Dean Court, and Robinson may feel that he’ll get first-team chances under Howe.
Sheffield United undoubtedly need additions this summer. Chris Wilder has taken his side to the Premier League, but loanees Kieran Dowell, Scott Hogan and Gary Madine have all left the Blades. That means attacking reinforcements will be needed at Bramall Lane, and Wilder wanted Robinson last summer. North End wouldn’t budge, but Wilder will have surely been impressed with Robinson’s season – even if he was missing for four months of it through injury.
His fit at Bramall Lane isn’t clear though. Wilder tends to play a 5-3-2, with one of the midfielders pushed forward. Robinson could play that 10 role if needed, but we know his best role is as a left winger. That may mean he has a bit-part role barring a tactical change from Wilder. He may well love Robinson so much that he uses him as a striker in the David McGoldrick role, hovering around Billy Sharp whilst providing more pace and movement. It’s one idea, because otherwise it’s hard to understand why they’d move.