He signed for just £25,000 from Port Vale back in June 2014 and leaves Deepdale as Preston North End’s most expensive sold player ever.
Hugill handed in a transfer request towards the end of the summer transfer window that was rejected, but the 25-year-old departed the club on January’s deadline day to join West Ham United of the Premier League.
Simon Grayson brought him to the football club as a young, hungry and slightly unpredictable centre-forward, and he went on to lead the line maturely and effectively as North End’s senior striker for the past 18 months.
There were a couple of wild moments during his time at the club. He was sent off at Walsall in the Lilywhites’ promotion season from League One for a headbutt, before getting sent off in PNE’s second league game back in the Championship away at MK Dons.
It wasn’t until the 2016/17 campaign, following the departure of Joe Garner to Rangers, that Hugill made the striker spot his own and established himself as a Championship striker.
That season saw him top score for Simon Grayson’s side, with 13 goals in 47 games. A superb second-half brace away at Villa Park to earn North End a point the highlight amongst those.
This season has seen him carry on from his form last season and he exits PNE having contributed 10 goals so far this campaign, including three match-winning goals in 1-0 wins over Reading, Sheffield United and QPR as well as a thumping volley against Sunderland.
His 30th and last goal for the club came against Middlesbrough at Deepdale on New Year’s Day – a header in North End’s 2-3 defeat.
For a player like Hugill it is understandably a tough one to turn down when a lucrative Premier League offer arrives, and this deal suits all parties for sure.
Alex Neil’s side ran out 0-3 winners over Nottingham Forest on Tuesday, with the manager having withdrawn the No.9 from the squad – so there will certainly be life at Deepdale post-Hugill.
Having handed a transfer request in at the end of August it is clear a move was craved by the frontman, whose transfer to David Moyes’ side will benefit PNE greatly in the financial department. Port Vale will receive 20% of the large fee that North End will receive too.
That said they are losing a player who remained admirably professional following the slamming shut of the summer transfer window, and a player that scored goals that have kept the promotion dream alive for the Lilywhites.
Dedication, power and desire are the qualities that make Hugill the player he is and the ones that he will have to show even more as he makes the big step up to the promised land of English football.
Despite his height, the 25-year-old has pace at his disposal and shows no belief in a lost cause. Whilst his technical ability has improved massively over the years it is still developing, but his attitude on the pitch is second to none and that is something that West Ham United fans can be assured of.
Instinctive goals tend to be the striker’s talent, with his natural finishing ability not quite fine-tuned just yet.
David Moyes is getting a player that will see this move as a massive opportunity, a player that will be immensely proud to put on the West Ham shirt and play in a fine 60,000 seat stadium in the Premier League.
For Preston North End and Alex Neil they now have funds available to go and strengthen their ever-improving squad, and with the striker slot up for grabs, it presents a huge chance for someone.
Whether it will be Louis Moult, Sean Maguire or Callum Robinson that fills the void only time will tell, but Alex Neil’s tight-knit squad still has 17 games left of the current season and they will do everything they can to join Hugill’s new side in the top flight.