Preston fully expected Ben Davies to join Celtic before Liverpool swooped in

Martin Macdonald
Martin Macdonald
  • Updated: 19 May 2021 15:43 BST
  • 2 min read
Preston fully expected Ben Davies to join Celtic before Liverpool swooped in

Preston manager Alex Neil has revealed that the Championship side fully expected defender Ben Davies to join Celtic this summer before Liverpool bid for the player in January.

Davies’ contract with Preston at the time expired at the end of this season and as of 1 January he became available to talk to other clubs about a potential free transfer.

Celtic appeared to me on the cusp of sealing the deal on a pre-contract agreement, only for Liverpool to usurp the Scottish champions with a transfer bid, which Preston duly accepted.

Neil reckons the Reds have a quality player on their hands, and believes one of the reasons the Celtic move failed is that they would not have been willing to pay a transfer fee to get Davies in January, which Liverpool were.

“I think people will be, I wouldn’t say surprised because they shouldn’t be, because he’s did extremely well for us,” Neil told Sky Sports.

“I think he’s at a stage, certainly this season, where his game has come together, and I think if he does get an opportunity you’re talking about a really quality centre-back.

“To my knowledge, the deal with Celtic was one that looked as like that was where he was going to end up.

“However, we wouldn’t have allowed him, in this window, to have gone to Celtic unless there was a substantial fee attached, which I don’t think we would have got from them.

“So, from all the discussions I had with Ben Davies, I fully anticipated him staying until the end of the season.

“Then, naturally, Liverpool came in, and that blew everything out of the water.”

Davies’ surprise move from Preston to Anfield came about largely due to the current injury crisis at Liverpool.

The reigning Premier League champions have been without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for the majority of the season, while third-choice central defender Joel Matip was recently ruled out for the rest of the 2020/21 campaign.

As well as Ben Davies, Liverpool completed the signing of another centre-back on deadline day with the acquisition of Schalke’s Ozan Kabak on loan with the option to buy this summer.