Preston North End’s Patrick Bauer is showing signs of potentially becoming the bargain of the summer – and it begs the question as to why Derby County didn’t attempt to sign him.
Bauer was instrumental during Charlton Athletic’s promotion to the Championship last season. The German defender netted the winning goal in the playoff final against Sunderland.
Charlton boss Lee Bowyer must have known it was his perfect parting gift. Bauer was out of contract in the summer, and his stock at the Valley had risen.
But it was eventually Preston who won the race for his signature.
But where were Derby in all of this?
The Rams headed into the summer knowing central defender and Rams Player of the Year Fikayo Tomori was unlikely to return to Pride Park.
There was a big void to fill in the summer. Moreover, Richard Keogh, 33, and Curtis Davies, 34, hardly represent long-term options.
If there was a time to make a permanent defensive addition, the summer was it. Instead, Derby again opted for a loan, signing Matthew Clarke from Brighton and Hove Albion.
Bauer would have been ideal. At 26, he has his best years ahead of him. Moreover, he’s a leader having captained the Addicks and he boasts plenty of ability on the ball.
Football correspondent Olly Dawes sums up his opinion on Bauer at Deepdale Digest.
He reads the game well, he never really looks flustered, and his partnership with Ben Davies looks perfect. The uncompromising style of Bauer, with a little more experience and vocal leadership in his game, alongside the elegant Davies has been an ideal mix so far. Both can defend doggedly, but also look classy on the ball and can help build attacks from the back. On a free transfer, Bauer has been exactly what North End needed
Bauer has helped Preston to four wins and a draw from their opening seven games. Alex Neil’s side, who sit in the Championship playoff positions, recently beat Brentford 2-0 – the team who crushed the Rams 3-0 at Griffin Park before the international break.
Averaging 5.3 clearances and 4.6 aerial duels won per Championship game, Bauer has been superb. He could well turn out to be the difference for Preston this season.