Continuing the annual January coveting spree, Cartilage Free Captain presents the case for Derby County's Will Hughes.
Already a key player for Derby County in the second tier of English football at the tender age of 17, tricky trequartista Will Hughes has over the course of just one season developed a reputation for guile, tenacity and raw technical skill that has whipped up something of a minor frenzy amongst Premier League clubs of late. This isn't just a classic case of semi-decent English players building an undue hype in their native country before they've even really impressed either- reportedly, even Barca have an eye on him.
Interest piqued? Allow me to continue.
Name: William Hughes.
Team: Derby County
League: Championship (Britain)
Primary position: Centre Attacking Mid
Can also play: Wide Attacking Mid
Will Hughes is a classic Number 10 type, playing in behind the striker and creating opportunities with incisive passing and recycling of possession. He is renowned also however for his high work rate, strong tackling and cool-headed approach, as well as his goalscoring ability. His consistency and maturity landed him the Football League Young Player of the Month award for this November just past, as well as landing him his debut for the national U-21s, which saw him become the second-youngest player to be capped at that level.
It's no secret that Spurs are a little short on creativity and flair through the middle of the pitch at the moment. As the user Lennon's Eyebrow stated in his case against signing Joao Moutino yesterday, where the side could really use reinforcement is in that spot around the goalmouth where Tottenham have been proficient of late at fencing the ball in and holding possession, but lacking in terms of picking the lock and forcing their way past defences. In his short career with Derby County, Hughes has already shown the kind of brilliant footballing brain that could see his potential exponentially rise if given the chance to shine at the highest level.
The main sticking point is that his favoured position is already packed out with competent or better players, with Clint Dempsey currently favoured for the spot, Glyfi Sigurdsson the likely successor going forward if he can begin to live up to his potential, and prodigy Lewis Holtby joining over the summer. Considering how many years he could spend developing yet before he peaks, however, it would be far from a calamity if Daniel Levy decides to front the comparatively high probable fee for Hughes.
Likely price: £5-7m
Probability that valuation is wrong: Fairly low considering his age and ability, though there is of course the obligatory 'English adjustment'.
Team's willingness to sell: Derby do have a recent history of allowing key players to go for much less, as evidenced by the cheap sale of star defender Jason Shackell to Burnley at the start of this term.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Very good.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs: Absolutely negligible. As previously mentioned, he'd be joining a house already too crowded with talent to make the deal worth it.
Grade if this transfer goes through at likely price: A-