Preston’s hopes of signing Manchester City goalkeeper Aro Muric have officially ended.
We broke the news back in May that North End wanted Muric on loan. Strong ties to City – after loaning Brandon Barker and Lukas Nmecha last season – gave Preston hope of another arrival from the Etihad Stadium.
Sadly, Nottingham Forest caught wind of Muric’s availability. They’ve been able to offer a greater wage contribution, and have essentially hijacked North End’s move.
The Kosovo international, 20, has gone through with his move despite the bizarre sacking of Martin O’Neill. He will hope to develop at the City Ground, leaving Preston to ponder the next move.
Having targeted Muric, it seems clear that Alex Neil is looking to replace Declan Rudd. Connor Ripley may only be a backup, so targeting another Premier League goalkeeper wouldn’t be a shock.
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Chelsea’s Jamal Blackman fits the bill having played Championship football already. Freddie Woodman of Newcastle United is another appealing talent, as he desperately needs first-team football.
However, one of the players that makes the most sense is Brighton’s Christian Walton. The 23-year-old spent the last two seasons on loan at Wigan Athletic, enjoying a strong couple of years at the DW Stadium.
Now, Wigan have signed Hull City’s David Marshall, indicating Walton won’t be returning. That leaves the door open for somebody to make their move, and North End should be interested.
Walton stands at a huge 6ft 5in tall, which is the kind of giant frame North End have been looking for. He’s got Championship experience, and isn’t averse to moving north having played for Wigan.
He’s now 23, and needs to be making moves to settle down. Brighton already have a host of keepers; Mat Ryan, David Button and Jason Steele are all at the club, whilst Hugo Keto and Robert Sanchez are promising talents.
Now is the time for Walton to move on, and also the time for North End to find a new goalkeeper. There’s a chance that Walton may leave permanently this summer, giving Preston the chance to sign a stopper for now and for the future – which may actually be better than taking Muric for a year, and ending up in goalkeeping trouble again in a year.