Derby County and Queens Park Rangers have missed out on the signing of Ben Whiteman after the midfielder joined Preston North End for an undisclosed fee.
The midfielder attracted plenty of attention following his form for Doncaster Rovers.
A report by Football Insider last January claimed Derby, Blackburn and Barnsley were keen, while Hull City saw a previous bid in the summer of 2019 knocked back.
Doncaster manager Darren Moore, meanwhile, told the Doncaster Free Press last week how bids understood to be from both Preston and Queens Park Rangers were rejected.
But after going back in with another offer, Preston have won the race for his signature.
Whiteman spoke to Preston’s official website of his decision, saying:
“As soon as I had finished with him [Preston boss Alex Neil], I had made my mind up straight away. He spoke very well and spoke very highly of the football club and I can’t wait to start.”
QPR have made a habit of signing top young players from the lower leagues such as Rob Dickie and Charlie Kelman, but Whiteman could be a big miss.
The talented midfielder’s former Doncaster manager Grant McCann told the Yorkshire Post how Whiteman was the best player in League One in his position.
Derby, meanwhile, may take comfort knowing they have arguably among the best young midfielders in the Championship in Krystian Bielik, Jason Knight and Max Bird.
The Rams’ initial interest in Whiteman coincided when the latter two were just breaking through. Their rise since has made that area Derby’s strongest in terms of quality and depth.
Derby will now hope they can retain their prized assets as top-flight clubs come looking.