Liverpool set to beat Arsenal to Derby County starlet

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Brendan Rodgers enjoyed an excellent winter transfer window last season, signing Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, and Liverpool could begin their business with Will Hughes this time around.

Derby’s pasty playmaker has long been linked with a Premier League switch and the Reds are aiming to beat Arsenal and Manchester United to his signature.

Currently second in the league, Liverpool are 4/5 to end the year in the top four.

Still just 18, Hughes is already a key part of Derby’s midfield, having made 38 appearances last season.

He has started this campaign in impressive fashion at the Rams, notching four goals and three assists in 18 matches in all competitions.

Hughes has a keen eye for a killer ball, averaging 1.9 key passes per game in the Championship, the 13th best tally in the league.

The youngster averages 42.7 passes per game at an impressive completion rate of 86.1 per cent, suggesting he will have little difficulty fitting into Rodgers’ philosophy.

The Northern Irish manager could see Hughes as a fine long-term replacement for Steven Gerrard in the heart of Liverpool’s side, as the talismanic midfielder is nearing the end of his illustrious career.

Jordan Henderson has not come on as rapidly as the Reds would have hoped when they laid out £16m for his services, and replacing Gerrard is likely to be a crucial issue at Anfield in the coming seasons.

Liverpool could win the race for Hughes by meeting Derby’s price-tag of £12m, a fee they were happy to splash out on Sturridge last January.

Rodgers might decide to let the midfielder continue his development on loan at Derby for the rest of the year, as Manchester United did with Wilfried Zaha at Crystal Palace.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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