Middlesbrough are reportedly keen on Emil Riis as Preston are faced with unwelcome interest in the Danish striker.
Riis was a shock and somewhat abrupt signing from Randers back in October 2020, arriving with next to no speculation surrounding a deal.
North End beat German clubs to a £1.2million move for Riis, who initially impressed before his confidence seemed to wane, and he finished his first season in England with just two league goals in 38 outings.
Few could have expected the Dane to explode as he did last season though, with Riis racking up 20 goals across all competitions.
Riis signed a new contract until 2025 back in October, giving Preston great control over his valuation on the market.
We haven’t heard much about other clubs wanting to sign Riis, but the day has now come.
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Football League World report that Middlesbrough have lodged an enquiry into signing Riis.
There have been rumours around social media over the last 24 hours or so but this is the first news outlet to run with Boro’s interest.
Preston have released a statement this lunchtime claiming that no acceptable bids have been submitted for any North End player, a clear response to the rumours about Riis.
Boro have brought in two new strikers this summer with Marcus Forss and Matthew Hoppe arriving from Brentford and Mallorca respectively.
Chris Wilder remains in the hunt for another striker though and with Groningen standing firm on Jorgen Strand Larsen, Wilder is turning to another Scandinavian attacker in Riis.
The Preston star scored three times against Boro last season; one was a gift at the Riverside Stadium before scoring a penalty and a beautiful chip on the final day of last season.
Riis is unpredictable; sometimes the ball will bounce off him and you wonder how he’s managed a 20-goal season for North End. But he’s also just as likely to smash one into the back of the net from an impossible angle.
Riis has plenty of potential but still has a lot of developing to do at 24; we would hope that development comes with Preston but money does ultimately talk.
Boss Ryan Lowe still wants a right wing back and a striker – which would become two strikers if Riis goes – and selling Riis for big money would fund some incomings.
Riis was also left on the bench against Luton Town on Saturday, leaving some to wonder about his role under Lowe this season.
Preston fans naturally have doubts about replacing players. Replacing Jordan Hugill and Callum Robinson proved difficult, even with big fees coming in for the duo.
North End cannot sell Riis and not replace him properly; that would be a major blow to the thousands who purchased season cards.
It’s an unwelcome situation for North End, who have generated some momentum off the back of wins over Huddersfield Town and Luton Town.
Boro have money to spend though and it could now be a rather nervy end to the summer window with Riis taking centre stage.