Were Derby County right to sell Will Hughes?

An incredibly talented boy, one for future, a boy with the world at his feet. These are just a few of the descriptions of Will Hughes during his Derby career.

After ten years at Derby, joining the club aged 12, now, 189 first team appearances later, at 22, Will Hughes has left Derby County. Over the years he’s been linked with big money moves to clubs such as Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United. However, on Saturday evening it was announced that the previously dubbed ‘boy wonder’ will be signing for Watford. Yes, Watford. Not exactly hitting the heights of the numerous Champions League clubs that were once ‘interested.’

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The value of the deal appears unknown with figures ranging from a rather measly £4.5 million (plus add ons) to a slightly more satisfying £10 million. Similar to the fact that we as fans expected Hughes to move to a ‘top club,’ we also believed we’d receive a much higher fee for our star man. However, due to an injury hit 15/16 season, followed by a disappointing 16/17, the value of Derby’s most prized asset has dropped significantly.

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So, onto the killer question – were Derby right to sell Will Hughes? To put it bluntly, yes. Though it is sad for us all to see our ‘golden boy’ leave, with four managers in one season and year after year of failure, it’s hardly a surprise to see that ‘Hughesy’ has moved on. Yesterday Gary Rowett revealed that he (Hughes) ‘was after a new challenge,’ which put simply means he pushed for a move away from Derby. This, though it pains me to say it, is in my opinion, why Derby were right to let Hughes go.

At the end of the day, we don’t want players who are perhaps not completely committed to the cause. Adding to this, with Rowett’s less possession-based style of play, Hughes wouldn’t have been as effective as he has been in the past. This tells me that, not only was a move good for his development, but that it will also be good for us as we now have more money available to make additions who fit the manager’s vision.

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Though Hughes had some great times at Derby, there were also those of frustration such as the play-off final defeat to QPR in 2014 (left) and the semi-final loss to Hull in 2016 (right).

Though I think we were right to let Hughes go, I am, like most Derby fans, devastated to see one of our greatest ever academy products move on. His departing message just enforced that feeling even further. However, that being said, I believe Hughes, suiting the general style of the top flight, and with us no longer holding him back, will thrive in the Premier League. Luckily, if that is the case, we have a 15 per cent sell-on clause in the deal.

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Hughes punches the air after scoring for the Rams in what turned out to be his final East Midlands Derby, as he contributed to a 3-0 win at Pride Park last December.

Good luck Hughesy. Make us proud and all that!

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