MIDFIELD starlet Will Hughes has again been linked with a money-spinning move to the Premier League.
The Derby County teenager is being monitored by Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, among others.
A story in a national newspaper says the Rams need to bring in £1.8 million in the January transfer window to balance the books.
While that figure is wide of the mark, Hughes is being rated at £4 million as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger considers a bid — and Derby would be hard-pressed to keep the 17-year-old if such a high offer is received.
The youngster, still doing his A-Levels at Repton School, was on England under-21 duty last night.
“Being called up for under-21s is a fantastic achievement on my part and it’s something I’ve really been looking forward to,” he said.
“You look at the names in the squad — people like Jordan Henderson, Tom Ince, Josh McEachran — they are the players I’ve been watching on TV over the past two or three years.
“So to be involved in a squad with those kind of players is a great experience for me.
“It was a bit of a shock and I didn’t believe it at first, seeing as my last callup was for the under-17s.” Losing Hughes — easily the best young player to emerge from Derby since Tom Huddlestone, and possibly better — would be a massive blow.
However, a proportion of any cash raised would be invested in the playing squad.
Rams boss Nigel Clough has already identified his midfield as an area which is a bit light on numbers, with James Bailey out on loan at Coventry City and just Craig Bryson, Jeff Hendrick and Hughes as natural central midfielders.
Ben Davies can play in the centre but is more comfortable operating wide on the right.