Jun 26, 2017
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What does the future hold for Will Hughes as he joins Marco Silva’s Watford?

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New Watford manager Marco Silva has started his rebuilding programme at Vicarage Road by signing Derby County midfielder Will Hughes for a fee reported, by The Guardian, to be in the region of £8,000,000.

The Portuguese coach was named as Walter Mazzarri’s replacement at the start of the summer after a relatively successful introduction to English football with Hull City. Whilst he was unable to save The Tigers from suffering relegation to the Championship the team experienced a significant up-turn in form following his arrival in mid-season.

However, Silva now faces the task of remoulding a Watford squad that is multi-national, lacking balance and requires a noticeable improvement in quality if the club are to improve on the 17th place finish secured last season.

The Hornets have moved quickly to secure the signature of the 22-year-old midfielder, who has been highly-sought after since he made his debut for Derby in 2011 as a sixteen-year-old. The player is currently with the England under-21 team competing in the European Championships in Poland this month but will link up his new colleagues at Vicarage Road in mid-July.

Derby’s prized asset

Will Hughes joined the Derby County academy as an eleven-year-old and made astonishing progress through the club’s junior ranks. In 2011 he was handed his first team debut at the age of sixteen by Steve McClaren and quickly cemented his place in the match day squad despite his tender years. He was widely perceived to be one of the most promising young talents in the country but, despite the constant circulation of rumours in the national press, a move to a Premier League club never materialised.

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He has made 187 appearances for The Rams, continuing to demonstrate considerable improvement year-on-year, and by nineteen had become a key component of the club’s midfield assemblage.

Hughes’ loyalty to Derby has been beneficial for all concerned, with the club able to retain one of their star names whilst the player has been able to accumulate considerable experience of first team football. In the modern era it is common to see players who are 20, 21 or 22 years of age struggling to break into senior football and having to be content with a place on the bench or amongst the substitutes, yet Hughes has already amassed almost 200 games.

Considering his experience and abundance of talent, it was always a certainty that Derby would lose their prize asset to a Premier League club eventually. Hughes is an all-action midfielder that is equally as adept creating goal scoring opportunities and controlling the flow of a game as he is fulfilling his defensive responsibilities.

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He is renowned for his technical ability and range of passing, which is aided by an almost telescopic-like vision that enables him to pick out the darting runs of team mates anywhere on the pitch. Possibly the only obvious weakness in Hughes’ game is his record in front of goal – the midfielder has only found the net twelve times in over five years.

The future at Watford

It is still unclear as to what formation and style of play Marco Silva will implement at Watford. The Portuguese coach is renowned for his tactical organisation and astuteness whilst promoting attacking play and freedom amongst his players.

Hughes will undoubtedly fit seamlessly into the midfield unit at Vicarage Road and it may be that Silva considers building his team around the 22-year-old. The England under-21 international already has an abundance of playing experience and has proven more than capable of controlling the pace and tempo of a game from a central position, so why not hand him the responsibility?

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From Hughes’ perspective the main focus will be to cement his place in the Watford starting eleven to ensure that he is playing regular football in the Premier League. His development will certainly continue if he is given the right opportunities and Silva give the impression that he is the type of manager that is willing to invest time, effort and finances in youth.

It has been a long wait for Hughes to secure a move to the top flight of English football – he now needs to ensure that he makes the most of it.

Featured image all rights reserved Vincent Wong.

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Martyn Cooke

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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