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Everton identify young Schneiderlin alternative

Blues keeping all options open

Derby County v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship
Will Hughes of Derby County
Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Update (Jan 13th, 2017, 15:15pm BST)

Hughes has signed a new contract to stay at Derby through till 2020

British media sources are reporting that Everton could be interested in Will Hughes should their proposed move for Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin get derailed.

The 21-year-old plays for Derby County in the second tier of English football and has been linked with a move to the Premier League numerous times in the past. However, a history of unfortunate injuries has led to any transfers falling through. He damaged anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee at the beginning of the 2015-16 season and missed eight months, coming back just in time for the Championship playoffs where Derby lost to Hull City, Everton’s next opponents on Friday.

Hughes showed a lot of character in making his recovery from that injury. In an interview after making his return to the team, he said -

“I knew straight away it was serious. You never think it’s going to happen to you. I couldn’t walk for a good few weeks after having surgery. You’re pretty much bed-bound. I went from confusion, to anger. You start to think: ‘Am I ever going to get back to where I was?’ I was very paranoid.”

Described four years ago as “a ‘flair player’ who uses through balls and mazy runs to create space for teammates and beat opposition defences in attacking positions”, he has been linked with Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in the past.

Will Hughes characteristics

Hughes has 18 months left on his contract, and Rams boss Steve McLaren remains optimistic of a new deal being worked out despite the player having turned down the latest extension offer.

With Director of Football Steve Walsh calling the shots at the Toffees now, especially regarding young players, it is expected that the Blues will offer somewhere in the range of £15million for the homegrown youngster.

The rumours are slightly puzzling though, considering how well Tom Davies has shown himself the last couple of times he has played for the senior squad.

Still, as Spurs have shown, you can never have enough midfielders in a squad, especially an injury-stricken one like Everton’s where James McCarthy, Tom Cleverley, Muhamed Besic and Darron Gibson are all laid up or offer nothing.

We’ll leave you with some video highlights of Hughes in action, and the similarities to Ross Barkley in his younger years are quite striking.