By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Ben Pearson has joined Preston from Manchester United for £100,000, the Championship club announced on Monday.
The 21-year-old has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Preston after spending the first half of the season on loan at League One club Barnsley.
United recalled Pearson from his loan amid interest from Bournemouth but Preston stole a march on Eddie Howe’s team to take him to Deepdale.
The Oldham-born England Under-20 international finalised the move on Monday morning after completing a medical, and goes straight into the Preston squad for the trip to Bristol City on Tuesday night.
“It was only a few days ago that I knew the club were interested, then it all went quite quickly from there,” Pearson told the Preston website.
“I got to an age where I needed to play games, I went to Barnsley this time last year and played a lot of games and played well. It was a good start to my men’s football career and I thought it was best to get a few more games under my belt before I took that step up to the Championship.”
— pnefc (@pnefc) January 11, 2016
Pearson, who did not make an appearance the senior United team, added: “I really enjoyed my time at Manchester United, and I can only say good things about them. As a young lad it is hard to break through there with the players that they’ve got and all of the money that they can spend on players, so it’s time to take a step back.
“It’s time to jump down a league but with a willing to get back to the top, and I think this is the right time to do that.”
United have an excellent relationship with Preston. Will Keane spent the first half of this season on loan at Preston before being recalled by Van Gaal, while United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has rejoined the Lilywhites until the end of the campaign.