Hughes is one of the highest rated youngsters in England, and he has been courted by Liverpool many times previously.
Renowned for his technical ability, he is seen as a very continental-based midfielder, and Barcelona have scouted him despite his young age of just 19-years-old. A consistent England Under-21 international, the midfielder has made 20 appearances for the Rams side who are performing so well in the Championship this season, and his talents far excel many of those on show on a weekly basis.
However, he has had little chance to prove whether the Premier League interest in the youngster is valid, with few games scheduled against top flight opposition.
Tuesday evening offered Hughes the chance to take on Chelsea in the League Cup, and he was placed in a midfield against Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and John Obi Mikel. The youngster showed his inexperience against such high class opposition, and he failed to have the kind of impact he has when taking on Championship rivals.
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Playing as part of a usual midfield three, Hughes was tasked with a more defensive role than he usually fulfils, having to stop the attacks of the roaming Cesc Fabregas. The young Englishman’s attacking threat dipped as a result, and he only managed one shot during his 75 minute spell on the pitch, and failed to play a single key pass.
However, he put in a solid defensive display against such high class opposition, winning three tackles and two interceptions in the middle of the park to prevent the Blues adding to their lead. For someone with such a slight frame, he did well to match up against the likes of Matic and Mikel, and his ball-winning duties showed an added ability on top of his usual playmaking style.
Although his attacking threat was diminished, Hughes still put in the kind of midfield performance expected of him, playing 30 passes with an accuracy of 90% - a percentage remarkably higher than his seasonal average in the Championship. He did register only 44 touches of the ball - less than half that as managed by Fabregas - but in a team who were ceding possession to Chelsea, it is a respectable tally.
Hughes showed promise in the 3-1 defeat, and he looked as if he was not in awe of the top class opposition he was facing. However, he still looked as if he could not cope with the talent on display across the entire game, and, although he is bound to turn into a truly top class player when he matures, Hughes undoubtedly made the best decision to sign a new contract with Derby over the summer - allowing him to progress with his hometown club as they look to secure passage to the Premier League.