A loan deal is often football’s equivalent of the ‘we need to have a talk’ moment in a relationship that has run its course.
The fact that Tottenham have loaned out Troy Parrott for the whole season was expected. That move was on the cards for some time, despite the positive glow of Parrott joining Spurs for their pre-season tour in Asia.
Preston are today more than pleased, having fended off loan offers from rival clubs, including ones who could potentially offer Parrott more of a crack at promotion to the Premier League next season. Preston finished in the bottom half of the table last term, 11 points off the play-offs. But the significant news line after the deal’s confirmation was the revelation Parrott had signed a new three-year contract with Spurs before heading off to play with Preston.
Newcastle United and Brighton have loaned out Parrott’s international teammates Jeff Hendrick, Ciaran Clark and Aaron Connolly this summer, but it’s hard to see that trio playing for their parent clubs again.
Spurs do not look like a club who are about to break up with Parrott but instead feel that, based on his solid season last term and an impressive attitude in pre-season, he’s someone who Antonio Conte wants around the place.
Harry Kane is a name that enters the conversation around Parrott. Preston will be the fourth time Parrott has gone out on loan during his time at Spurs. Kane also had four loan spells away from the club before he convinced them he was the real deal, he made the most of that fourth and final loan, came back to Spurs, scored on his Premier League full debut, and the rest is history.
It’s unlikely that Kane will still be at Tottenham in the summer of 2024: if Bayern Munich can persuade Barcelona to part with €50m for an ageing Robert Lewandowski now, then Spurs will be confident of prising an even better fee from an equally gullible, and equally desperate, fallen giant in the next two years, freeing up space for a Parrott-like player to take Kane’s place.
Parrott has not always been a loan star – two goals in almost 30 games for Millwall and Ipswich tells its own story, but Milton Keynes was more of a home for him last term, where he thrived in a promotion-chasing side. Preston will have had to work hard to convince Spurs to send him there, and it will be fascinating to see if they deploy him as a lead striker or in the more supporting role he had at MK Dons.
They need goals. Only one Preston player hit double figures last season, their second-highest scorer had only seven goals and Seáni Maguire (one goal) had the lowest output of his career, so Preston know what they want from an attacking talent like Parrott.
At MK Dons, he found a comfort zone there and having a fellow Dubliner (Warren O’Hora), plus an U-21 teammate (Conor Coventry), may have helped him settle more so than he did at Millwall or Ipswich. Senior squad members Alan Browne and Robbie Brady played a role in luring him to Lancashire. “I’ve been speaking to Browney and Robbie and just asking what it’s like around the place and they’ve had nothing but good things to say, so I’m happy to be here,” he said.
Parrott had a good season last year at club level and played a significant role on the international stage. His injury-time goal at home to Lithuania in a friendly earned an unimpressive Ireland a 1-0 win over a poor side, one goal at home against a team who conceded 14 in their next four.
That win played a role in easing the pressure on Stephen Kenny, who had signed his new contract just before the March window. The June window was a test: deservedly dropped after a poor showing in Armenia and benched for the home loss to Ukraine, Parrott delivered the perfect response at home to Scotland and was again impressive against Ukraine in Poland.
Ireland’s early exits from the qualification race in the World Cup qualifiers and a stillborn Nations League campaign indicate that qualifying for Euro 2024 will be a test. But if Preston allow Parrott to move up the ladder, en route to possible greatness with Tottenham, all parties will benefit in the end.