Alex Neil has swooped to sign Bersant Celina on loan for Stoke City after being interested in him during his time as Preston North End manager.
The Kosovan international became The Potters latest January signing after joining on loan from French side Dijon until the end of the season. The 26-year-old has previously played for Manchester City, Swansea City and Ipswich Town, but had spent the first half of the season on loan with Turkish side Kasimpaşa.
Neil has been fond of Celina for sometime and has said in the past as revealed by the Lancashire Evening Post that he was on Preston’s radar a few years ago. Ahead of a tie against Swansea City who had recently bought Celina, Neil said “We looked at the boy Celina, who scored goals for Ipswich on loan last year. He was someone who we were maybe looking at last summer. I think Swansea bought him for £4m.”
Celina had scored eight goals in 38 games in that aforementioned spell at Ipswich but the fee that Swansea ended up paying to sign him permanently from Manchester City would never have been something Preston could have competed with.
Two years after his move to Swansea, Celina was signed by Dijon, but after just one season playing for them he returned to Ipswich on loan again, this time in League One. He scored six goals in 35 games, and last summer TWTD suggested Preston had once again put the attacking midfielder on their radar.
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He wouldn’t have fit in as a wing-back in our system for Ryan Lowe, but would have been appropriate to play just behind the front two.
Shortly after Preston’s interest was reported, TWTD believed Stoke to then be in pole position to sign him on loan last summer before he made the move to Turkey initially.
Alex Neil finally has his man though now , over four years after first being interested in him. He will be hoping he can help fire Stoke up the table after a slightly disappointing first six months of his tenure which currently sees them in 18th place in the Championship.