Preston’s history with loan players is, as is the case with many Football League clubs, a little mixed.
In recent times, the likes of Jordan Pickford and Aiden McGeady have been fan favourites at Preston. Going back even further, fans will remember the huge impact Brett Angell once had as a loanee at Deepdale.
Some loanees have arrived and left without being seen, such as Sam Hoskins and Bradley Fewster. Others have flopped at Deepdale, but had success at a higher level; Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll fit that bill, and so does Josh King.
King was one of a number of Manchester United talents Preston were able to sign under Darren Ferguson. Links to his father Sir Alex helped North End land the likes of Welbeck, King, Matty James and Richie de Laet in what proved to be a torrid era.
King became Preston’s 1000th player when he joined from United in January 2010. He arrived with a burgeoning reputation; he had thrived in United’s reserves, and then in their pre-season plans before heading to Deepdale.
King made his Preston debut just a day after signing. He was thrown on in a dismal 2-0 defeat to Doncaster Rovers, but showed flashes of the pace and exciting play that had seem him emerge at Old Trafford.
The Norwegian scored in a cup win over Stockport County, but that’s about as good as it got. He quick and skilful, but completely lacking in end product. After an injury halted his loan, King did return but was then called back by Sir Alex Ferguson, following Preston’s decision to sack his son. A coincidence, we’re sure.
Few could have seen him going onto stardom back then, even if he had the raw qualities. Loans with Borussia Monchengladbach and Hull City reaped little success, but he eventually settled down with Blackburn Rovers. Even there, King only scored eight goals in 74 games.
He was seen as a bizarre signing for Bournemouth in 2015. They pounced to sign King on a free transfer, handing him a shot at Premier League success despite his patchy Championship form – and boy, has he taken that chance.
King has now bagged 46 Premier League goals in 154 outings for the Cherries. That strong goalscoring record is now leading to interest, with Sky Sports claiming that four of the Premier League’s top six clubs want to sign him
Manchester United are keen on re-signing King, whilst Chelsea are thought to be interested too. The other clubs aren’t named, but King may now be heading to the Premier League’s elite.
That couldn’t have been predicted when King was at North End; he’s now a far cry from the player who featured in Preston’s relegation season, and one of the few eventual success stories from that campaign.