Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is realigning his January transfer radar, which is bad news for Derby County starlet Will Hughes.
The Reds have been linked to Hughes by numerous news outlets—including the Daily Mirror—since the summer window shut, but now it appears Rodgers will use his money elsewhere.
James Pearce of local news source The Liverpool Echo reports that Hughes does not figure among the club’s plans for January, despite the threat of another Premier League club snapping up his services:
Liverpool FC currently have no plans to table a bid for Derby County’s Will Hughes in January …
Andre Wisdom’s season-long loan switch to the Championship outfit has fuelled speculation that Hughes could head in the opposite direction for a fee of around £15million.
However, the ECHO understands that despite having sent scouts to Derby matches and monitored Hughes’ progress, Liverpool are not preparing to table an offer.
Derby chief executive Sam Rush recently offered comment on Hughes' future, insisting the loan transfer of Wisdom was totally separate to any potential deal for Hughes.
Rush was quoted by Sky Sports, saying:
Andre was the top of Steve McClaren's list of people he wanted to bring in to strengthen the squad. So no, there is no connection with Will Hughes at all.
There has been no further movement in terms of Will. From our point of view, we are just looking forward to watching him continue to play for Derby County.
The apparent U-turn in Liverpool’s interest is likely to have been caused by their excellent start to the campaign, which sees the Merseysiders sit two points adrift of leaders Arsenal after nine games.
Rodgers’ men have already opened a four-point gap to Manchester City and a six-point gulf between themselves and Manchester United, prompting growing belief that they can finish in the top four this season.
Both Manchester clubs are suffering a transition period under new managers but are likely to improve their form as the campaign advances, which is why Liverpool need to capitalise fully on their advantage by adding quality in January.
Hughes looks a fine prospect for the future, already shining in Derby’s midfield at the age of 18. His experience in the Championship provides a good foundation on which to base a career, but he is not ready to make an impact at Premier League level.
Two goals and two assists from 13 Championship appearances is hardly the type of form that suggests he would propel Liverpool to the Champions League, which is what the club desperately desire this year.
Liverpool clearly have money to spend—given their failed attempt to sign Willian—and Rodgers has shown he is happy to attack the January market, just as he did to land Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.
The Reds were recently linked to Mohamed Salah of FC Basel by the Daily Mail's Simon Jones. Salah is a speedy winger who could instantly add a new dimension to the Reds’ attack, and it is that calibre of player Rodgers will surely be identifying.