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Preston boss Neil insists Liverpool signing Davies can match Jota, Robertson

Preston North End boss Alex Neil is convinced Ben Davies will thrive with Liverpool.

The centre-back sealed a transfer deadline day switch to the reigning Premier League champions.

Neil said, "I would say Ben Davies, for me, has been the best left-sided centre-back in the Championship this season.

“His speed, his comfort on the ball, he makes very rare mistakes and his defending has improved considerably.

"That wasn't always the case, he has filled out now and his confident has gone to a new level.

"If you can defend against the physicality that comes with Championship level, it will just be the speed of the game and power of the players in the Premier League that he will be able to adapt to.

"But I don't think that will take him long because those are his best attributes - reading the game and his speed across the ground.

"You need comfort on the ball and pace to read the game; those are Ben's best attributes and if he can bring them to the party, which I think he can, he could be a really astute signing.

"If you look at the signings Liverpool have made - Robertson, Wijnaldum, Jota - they were not of a too dissimilar ilk when they were brought in and they've turned out to be superstars.

"I really don't see why Ben can't be the same."

With Davies having previously looked set to join Celtic on a Bosman-style free transfer in the summer, Neil admits that Liverpool's late interest came as a surprise.

He said: "To my knowledge, the deal with Celtic looked like he would end up there but in this window we wouldn't have allowed him to go to Celtic unless there was a substantial fee attached - which I don't think we would've got.

"I fully anticipated him staying until the end of the season and then naturally, Liverpool blew everything out of the water for two reasons.

"Liverpool were very good in that they offered us a good fee for a lad with less than six months remaining, and I couldn't stop Ben from fulfilling that ambition of playing at the highest level with the world champions.

"Incredible couple of days for him for that turnaround."

Such was the acceleration in proceedings, Neil admits that he seemed more comfortable with what was happening than the 25-year-old player himself.

He said: "I think I was happier than he was to be honest! I think he was shocked and I just said 'listen, you've just got to make sure that you get this across the line.'

"And his first question was 'How do you think Peter (Ridsdale, Preston's owners' representative) will be? Do you think he will let me go?' and I just told him not to worry.

"That was a deal we just could not stop from happening, so delighted for him.

"I think he's ready, I think he is at a stage where his game has come together and I think if he does get an opportunity we will be talking about a real quality centre-back."


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