Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Liverpool close to signing £10m Derby midfielder Will Hughes

Midfielder Will Hughes is only 18 but has become a Derby regular
Midfielder Will Hughes is only 18 but has become a Derby regular

Liverpool are close to agreeing a deal for the £10m-rated Derby County midfielder Will Hughes, whom they would leave at the Championship club for the rest of the current season.

The England Under-21 international, who is 18, has long been regarded as one of the brightest talents in English football. He made his Championship debut for Derby at the age of 16 and was a regular in the side last season, playing 35 league games.

Hughes has been watched extensively over the last six months by Liverpool's chief scout, Barry Hunter. The teenager's performances have merited the attention of all the leading Premier League clubs, including Manchester City and Arsenal, but it is Liverpool who are prepared to pay the premium price for an English talent and leave him at his current club to develop for another year.

Hughes played for England Under-21s against Scotland last week and impressed once again. He is part of a small group of English players who the Football Association hopes can be developed in the next cycle of Under-21s to make the step up to senior level within the next four years.

Unlike many young players of his age group, Hughes has extensive first-team experience – albeit it at Championship level. While he will represent a considerable investment, and a risk, Liverpool are aware that the price is only likely to rise over the coming months.

Norwich City have further strengthened their attacking options by completing a season-long loan deal for the Galatasaray forward Johan Elmander.

The 32-year-old Sweden international has been playing in Turkey for two seasons since leaving Bolton. He becomes Chris Hughton's eighth recruit this summer.

He will now compete with fellow new signings Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper, as well as January acquisition Luciano Becchio, for a place in the Canaries' attack.

"I'm really delighted to bring in a player of Johan's experience, not only at club and Premier League level but as a current international," said Hughton. Elmander made 52 appearances for Galatasaray, scoring 16 goals, after arriving from the Premier League on a free transfer in 2011.

The 19-year-old Greece international winger Charis Mavrias looks set to join the long list of Sunderland's pre-season acquisitions after he arrived for a medical ahead of a £2.5m move from Panathinaikos.

Mavrias is the second-youngest to have played in the Champions League – at 16 years and eight months – and has since made more than 60 appearances for Panathinaikos, scoring six goals.

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