Celtic are preparing to offer Preston North End midfielder Ben Pearson a pre-contract agreement, according to The Scottish Sun.
The Hoops have made contact, according to the report, with the combative performer out of contract during the summer of 2021.
Pearson is now allowed to discuss terms with clubs that aren’t based in England – and Celtic want to pounce.
The 25-year-old has been at Deepdale since 2016, signing from Manchester United.
Pearson failed to make a first-team appearance at Old Trafford but played 51 times during a loan spell with Barnsley.
Preston then opted to sign him on a permanent basis and he’s developed into a fine midfielder.
He has made 165 appearances for the Lilywhites and could prove a shrewd free signing in the summer.
It seems certain Preston will make some advances over a new deal and they won’t want to lose a prized asset for nothing.
Pearson is an energetic performer who is strong in the tackle and boasts an array of passing talent.
He is very much a fan favourite at Preston and it’s not difficult to understand why Neil Lennon wants to sign him.
Pearson is currently nursing an ankle injury and hasn’t featured in the last seven games for North End.
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The Hoops have Ismaila Soro, Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham already in their ranks capable of doing what Pearson does.
Brown was left out of Saturday’s defeat by Rangers and perhaps Lennon sees Pearson as a long-term replacement for the skipper.
Ntcham has been linked with a move in the past and perhaps Celtic are prepared to offload him.
One way or another it seems the Hoops will have to create a fall-guy for this season’s campaign.
Celtic trail Rangers by 19 points and that simply won’t do for Celtic.
Clearly, Lennon feels the problem lies in midfield and the signing of Pearson could strengthen the engine room.