Claims emerged over the weekend that several Premier League clubs are interested in a move for North End centre back Ben Davies. Everton, Brighton, Newcastle and Wolves are the four sides said to be looking for a deal in the region of £10m, according to Sun reporter Alan Nixon.
Davies, 24, of Barrow, was spotted by North End aged 11 and has come through the youth academy at Deepdale. He made his debut for the club in 2013 under Graham Westley as a left-back, before various loan spells across the Football League, including at York City, Tranmere Rovers and Fleetwood Town.
It was at Fleetwood that he made his mark at the start of 2017, Davies playing at centre half in a three at the back formation utilised by then boss Uwe Rosler.
Davies’s future at PNE was unknown at that time but he has played a big part in PNE’s recent rise under Alex Neil.
His first home appearance of the 2017/18 season came in a 3-0 home victory over Cardiff, and he has never looked back since. He told the club website he was “honoured” to captain North End for the first time in a 2-0 win over Leeds in the Carabao Cup last season.
At the end of the campaign, he won the club’s player of the year and the players’ player of the year awards. That capped off an upward curve of progression for Davies since he joined the club, having previously won the scholar and young player of the year award in previous seasons.
Davies has become an indispensable member of North End’s backline and has so far this season formed a solid partnership with Patrick Bauer at the heart of the defence. The pair have kept three clean sheets so far and have started every Championship game together. The most recent, Saturday’s 5-1 win over Barnsley, was Davies’s 100th game in a Preston shirt.
He was awarded the home man of the match in the 3-0 League Cup defeat to Premier League champions Manchester City, a game which he was also captain for, earlier this month. If top-flight clubs are interested in Davies, it is perhaps his ball-playing abilities that will attract them as well as his defensive abilities.
Brighton boss Graham Potter and Everton manager Marco Silva in particular like to play out from the back, as is almost the norm in the top flight these days and Davies’s 78.4% pass accuracy this season certainly backs up the fact that he can pick a pass.
But, we as North End fans don’t need stats to tell us that, we see his quality week in, week out. He is often referred to as a ‘Rolls Royce’ of a defender and he would almost certainly shine in the Premier League should he move. If Davies was to leave North End, it would certainly leave a big hole in their defensive ranks.
However, Ben has been at the club for 13 years and with Alex Neil’s side currently enjoying an excellent start to the league campaign, the hope would be that PNE can convince the centre back to stay and try and achieve the Premier League dream with the club.
He is out of contract at the end of next season so, from a fans’ point of view, the hope would be that he is offered, and puts pen to paper on, a new deal. That would mean the club would be in a stronger position to ask for more money if a Premier League club did come calling. If Adam Webster left Bristol City for £20m you’d imagine that North End would ask for something similar if a club did come in with a concrete offer.
Hopefully Ben stays for the foreseeable future because right now, who knows where we will end up come May? With the position the club is in, a promotion push would be best helped by keeping hold of our best players.