Liverpool have reportedly fended off Manchester United and Arsenal to clinch the signature of promising 18-year-old Will Hughes, according to James Dickenson of the Express.
The Derby County midfielder looks set to leave Pride Park for Anfield in the January transfer window after the Reds reportedly forked out the £12million asking price for the highly touted youngster.
According to Dickenson, both Arsene Wenger and David Moyes were also interested in securing Hughes’ services, but it will be the latter who is left most disappointed.
Moyes has been actively seeking a central midfielder since he took over the reins from Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer. The Scot was reportedly interested in Cesc Fabregas, Ander Herrera, Thiago Alcantara, Daniele De Rossi, Luka Modric and Wesley Sneijder—per Owen Gibson of The Guardian—and although his latest interest is yet to prove himself in the top tier of English football, Moyes will likely be left frustrated after missing out.
Hughes became the second-youngest player, after Theo Walcott, to represent the England Under-21 side when he came off the bench against Northern Ireland in November of last year—per Paul Fletcher at BBC Sport.
According to Fletcher, Hughes is a big fan of Spanish football, and enjoys watching Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, particularly admiring their decision-making on the ball.
The 18-year-old has scored four goals and assisted two for the Rams this season—per the club’s official website—but it's his composure on the ball and direct running style that will have interested Liverpool.
If Hughes is to join the Merseyside outfit then he will be learning from one of the Premier League’s most established players, Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard, at 33, is reaching the twilight of his career and manager Brendan Rodgers may just see Hughes as a possible successor to the England skipper.
He will unlikely cement his place in the Reds’ starting XI right away, but if his performances for Steve McClaren at Derby County are anything to go by then it won’t take long before he starts producing the goods in the Premier League.
Many will be wary of putting too much pressure on his young shoulders, but if he can keep his feet grounded then he could be one to watch sooner rather than later.