Preston have confirmed their fourth signing of the January transfer window having finally secured a deal for Doncaster Rovers midfielder Ben Whiteman.
North End landed three loan signings last week, and have now dipped into the permanent market by signing Whiteman until 2024.
The 24-year-old joins Jayson Molumby in helping bolster Alex Neil’s options in the engine room, and he arrives for a ‘significant’ undisclosed fee – believed to be somewhere between £1.5million and £2million.
With Ben Pearson potentially on his way and Paul Gallagher approaching 37, adding more quality in midfield for the coming years had to be a priority.
Whiteman arrives having been one of the top midfielders in League One for years now, and this move gives him the chance to step up to the Championship.
Neil has been reacting to the move, telling Preston’s official website that he has been wanting to sign Whiteman since the transfer window opened.
Neil noted that the uncertainty surrounding Pearson and Daniel Johnson means he needed another quality midfield player, and the time is right for him to make the step up.
The North End boss added that he sees Whiteman as a deep lying playmaker, seemingly suggesting that he could be Gallagher’s heir rather than Pearson’s like-for-like replacement.
“We have been after him since the window opened and we have managed to stave off another couple of suitors, who were interested, so it has been great business from us,” said Neil. “It is well-documented the issues we have in the middle of the pitch in terms of contracts expiring and we need reinforcements and additions in there, because we don’t know what the outcome of that is going to be. Not only that, but he is a player who has his best years ahead of him. He is only 24 and I am really happy that we have managed to get him in.”
“He is very different from the likes of Jayson, who wants to get up and down the pitch and go and support and get into the opposition box. I see Ben as a deep lying playmaker. He has a good range of passing, he wants to control the game, wants to sit, senses danger and breaks up play and he is certainly player that gives us balance in the middle,” he added.