According to the Daily Record, Preston are in the race to sign Celtic’s Jonny Hayes.
Hayes, 32, is out of contract at the end of the season. The Bhoys may well be trying to tie the Irishman down to a new deal, but they are in real danger of losing him.
With the January transfer window just a day away from opening, Hayes can now secure a future elsewhere. Inside the final six months of his contract, he can sign a pre-contract agreement with another club, and move on for free in the summer.
Preston are thought to be interested, alongside Cardiff City, Middlesbrough and Stoke City. A free transfer may be appealing, as could attempting a cut-price deal in January.
North End have a little history there, having signed right back Michael Hart to a pre-contract agreement in 2008, before tempting Aberdeen into selling him for a small fee to save losing him for nothing.
A similar move for Hayes would make some sense, and would bring in some of that valuable experience that Alex Neil spoke about over the summer.
Hayes has only made 61 appearances for Celtic since a 2017 move from Aberdeen, but Neil Lennon has taken a liking to him this season. Primarily a winger, Hayes has also featured at left back, turning in some solid displays no matter where he has played.
With Preston short at left back and on the left flank, Hayes could give Neil an option in both areas, and this isn’t even the first time Neil has been linked with a move for Hayes.
The Daily Express (June 22, 2018, p58) claimed that Preston wanted to take Hayes on loan, but ended up bringing in Brandon Barker instead. Now, there’s a chance to sign Hayes for a cut-price fee or for absolutely nothing – and his versatility and experience may make him very appealing.