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Sport: Opinion: After another strong showing v West Brom, Preston North End should break the bank to sign loanee in the summer

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Preston North End ended the unbeaten home record of West Bromwich Albion this season on Wednesday night after a strong showing away from home against the Baggies.

The Lilywhites turned up to The Hawthorns with a game-plan and pressed Valerien Ismael’s side high, with their direct style not flustering Ryan Lowe’s men one bit.

Goals either side of half time from Emil Riis and Cameron Archer on his debut sealed all three points for North End, sending their fans back up the M6 in a buoyant mood.

The squad that Lowe has at his disposal is not the finished article by a long shot, but it’s going to be difficult to get any more deals done this month unless others depart first.

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A number of players are out of contract in the summer – the likes of Tom Barkhuizen, Paul Huntington and others are among that – they will free up some budget for incomings.

And what PNE fans really want to happen is for the loan deal for Liverpool defender Sepp van den Berg to be made permanent, with the Dutch youngster having a sensational season at Deepdale.

Van den Berg arrived at North End last season as part of the deal that took Ben Davies to Anfield, making 16 appearances between February and the end of the 2020-21 campaign, mainly though in an unfamiliar wing back position.

He had joined the Reds as a centre back and played there in the development squads but it was somewhat of a baptism of fire for Van den Berg, but he was quite clearly up to the task and returned over the summer to North End – this time on a full season arrangement though.

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Having been quite clear that he wanted to play as a centre back, Van den Berg had to feature at wing back again for the first 14 matches of the current campaign but since the end of October, the 20-year-old has been used on the right side of a back three.

That is much more in his comfort zone – not that he played badly as a wing back in-fact he surprised many with his attacking talents, including a splendid goal against Swansea City – but he’s come on leaps and bounds in a trio with Patrick Bauer and Andrew Hughes.

And his performance against West Brom proved typical of his development – despite coming up against a dangerous forward in Karlan Grant he marked him out of the game effortlessly.

His stats line read very favourably too, with five of his eight long passes attempted being successful, and on the defensive side he made five interceptions, three clearances and won all four aerial duels (via Wyscout).

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The regular clamours of the North End faithful on social media to break the bank for his services in the summer came to the forefront again on Wednesday night, and you just know that top Championship teams with bigger bank balances could easily outmuscle PNE when it comes to a potential deal in the summer.

However with Craig Hemmings now in charge of proceedings at Deepdale, things seem to be changing, firstly with fans getting what they want in terms of the Bill Shankly Kop being split between home and away fans again – but is he going to invest more money on players?

If he does then Van den Berg should go to the top of the summer shopping list as you get the feeling he won’t make it at Liverpool ahead of who they currently have.

Jurgen Klopp and his transfer team could loan Van den Berg out again to a bigger second tier club, or perhaps a Premier League or foreign top flight side next season, but if they can then North End should be looking to offer millions for the Dutch youngster as it’s clear that he really loves it at the club.

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Leeds United enter race to sign "dangerous" £34m-rated machine, Bielsa badly needs him - opinion .
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