According to a report in the Daily Mirror, Everton are plotting an initial £18 million bid for Norwich City’s James Maddison; around three times more than what Derby County received for Will Hughes 12 months ago.
The Toffees are reportedly looking to bolster their midfield options by bringing in the highly-rated play-maker, yet Norwich are doing what Derby should have done by holding out for a sizeable fee.
Maddison may be more of a goal threat than Hughes, illustrated by his 14 strikes and eight assists last season, but the 21-year-old is not any more of an influence in general play than the former Rams academy star.
Hughes came through the ranks at Derby and had already made over 100 Championship appearances by the time he was 20, playing a key role in the club’s promotion challenges under Steve McClaren.
The 23-year-old should have won promotion with the East Midlands club in 2013-14, but a heart-breaking play-off final defeat to Queens Park Rangers denied him his shot of representing Derby in the Premier League.
Ultimately, the Rams failed to make it, and a change in style under former boss Gary Rowett saw Hughes finally make the step up to the top flight via a 2017 summer transfer to Watford.
Most Derby fans did not begrudge Hughes his well-deserved shot at the Premier League at the time, yet it was the pitiful fee (Watford Observer claims around £4.5m rising to £8m) the club received which sparked anger.
For what Hughes had already accomplished at Derby and at England U21 level, and considering his huge potential and likeable character, it was an absolute bargain for Watford and he has since become an important player at Vicarage Road.
Maddison has played less than half the amount of Championship games Hughes had managed by the same age, and he has made considerably less England U21 appearances.
So, for Norwich to command such a hefty fee for him is an excellent piece of business on their part, while for Derby they must look at their deal 12 months ago with huge regret in the current financial climate.