Tom Cannon transfer blow should surprise absolutely nobody at Preston North End

The Everton striker has been a transfer target for PNE all summer, but Norwich City and Middlesbrough are now being linked with permanent moves

Are you meant to love or hate this thing? Preston North End and the loan market have had quite the relationship in recent years, but right now it seems set to cause further heartache. The Lilywhites look to have been blown out of the water for last season’s superstar Tom Cannon, whom Norwich City have reportedly bid £7million for late in the day.

Boy have we been here before – and should North End miss out on Cannon as expected, then people will understandably ask why Preston allowed this situation to unravel (again!). Ryan Lowe and co could’ve moved on weeks ago and bolstered their senior front line which, so far, has been made up entirely of summer signing Will Keane.

Ryan Lowe and Tom Cannon
Ryan Lowe and Tom Cannon

And yet Cannon did feel slightly different. The one PNE could potentially lure back; the one that would be worth holding out for. As impressive as his scoring streak was last campaign, Cannon felt further away from the finished article to Cameron Archer – who has been sold for £18million this summer.

You are also unlikely to find a loan player who appeared as home at Deepdale as Cannon did. The fans adored him too, but this is ultimately the fickle nature of such deals. So, perhaps this will be the lesson, for good, that nothing is ever guaranteed in the transfer window. And that at the end of the day, this is all just business – where none of the above really matters. Not even attending a pre-season friendly and taking pictures with supporters.

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In January, nobody else in the Championship wanted the youngster. Eight goals and seven months later, the player is demanding a transfer fee PNE could only dream of splashing. Everton have truly played the long game, with Cannon kept on board until their own incomings were secured. North End’s hope, clearly, was that the striker would then be given the green light to leave. Ryan Lowe implied the deal was on the cusp of going through ten days ago.

Everton’s financial situation certainly could’ve rung alarm bells for Preston, though. It is no coincidence that the Toffees appear so keen to sanction a permanent sale. Normally, a player of his potential would surely be kept on board – especially by a club who’ve hovered just about the Premier League drop zone in the last couple of years.

Everton are evidently desperate for any money they can get. And we will never truly know whether they had any intention of sending Cannon back to PNE, or if the Lilywhites were simply kept at arm’s length all along – as the Toffees anticipated and hoped for a late bidding war.

North End’s boss spoke about ‘reevalutating’ things on the transfer front on August 10th, with the loan move still not over the line. The proof will now be in the pudding as to how much back up work has been done in the days since.

North End’s patience over Cannon may have shot them in the foot, but the calibre of player involved could not have made it an easy deal to move on from. Not planning sufficiently for failure, though, would be criminally naive. Lowe is not one for wheeling and dealing at the final hour, but it needs to be all systems go at Euxton now. The clock is ticking.

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