Ben Pearson dropped as Alex Neil confirms he wants exit; Celtic have made contact

By John McGinley

January 17, 2021

Preston North End manager Alex Neil has admitted he is no longer playing Celtic target Ben Pearson because the midfielder doesn’t have a future at the club.

Sky Sports journalist Anthony Joseph reported earlier this month that Celtic had made initial contact about signing Pearson up on a pre-contract basis.

Pearson has played 165 times for Preston, but there’s a chance he may have made his last appearance.

Pearson has been out of the team injured for a while now. It appears his current spell on the sidelines is not because of a fitness issue.

Neil didn’t sound particularly happen with the situation and had this to say to LancsLive yesterday: “Listen, Ben would’ve been fit to be in the squad today, but we’ve signed some new lads that need to get minutes now.

“Ben has made it clear to us that his future doesn’t lie here come the end of the season. There is no point us going and strengthening positions and bringing players in if I’m not going to give them a shot and play them.”

Why should Celtic target Ben Pearson?

Pearson is a tenacious midfielder in his prime at 26. He’s someone who could viably fill the boots of Scott Brown beyond this season.

Brown, as we know, is coming to the end of his career. Pearson is a similar disruptor in the middle of the park.

When we asked Preston expert Olly Dawes of Deepdale Digest about Pearson, he said: “He’s been our most important player for about 4 years now. He’s mostly played as a holding midfielder under Alex Neil. [He is] our most composed player on the ball, all the attacks start through him.

“It’s a shame that it looks like he’s going because he’ll be very hard to replace.

Celtic target Ben Pearson / (Photo by Dave Howarth – CameraSport via Getty Images)

“He just loves trying to wind people up. His tackling can look bad, but he’s got a reputation now. It’s not a huge surprise that Celtic are looking at him. The comparison to Scott Brown is quite an easy one to make.”

Making such a midfield acquisition on a budget would make perfect sense.

It’ll be interesting to see if Celtic can tie this one up or whether Pearson will become the latest target we miss out on.

In other news, Celtic fans weren’t happy with Stephen Welsh’s benching on Saturday.