Newcastle United are weighing up a raid on Steve McClaren’s former club Derby County – for Will Hughes.
The midfielder was the Championship club’s player of the season last term.
He (Hughes) can always keep the ball and deal with it, but that killer pass to unlock packed defences or scoring a goal, that is what he has added to his game.Steve McClaren
And Liverpool have been linked with a summer move for Hughes, who is in the Czech Republic with England for the European Under-21 Championship.
But the Gazette understands that Hughes is also interesting Newcastle, who seem certain to sell long-serving midfielder Cheik Tiote this summer.
Hughes, however, won’t come cheaply, and Derby reportedly rate him in the £15m-bracket.
United – who have also been linked with Manchester United midfielder and former Derby loanee Jesse Lingard – are looking to add two or three British players to McClaren’s squad.
McClaren spoke glowingly about Hughes while head coach of Derby last season.
“He is developing and he is getting better, but there is still a long way to go,” said McClaren last October.
“What pleases me is he’s getting some end product to his play.
“He can always keep the ball and deal with it, but that killer pass to unlock packed defences or scoring a goal, that is what he has added to his game.”
Newcastle chief scout Graham Carr is also understood to be an admirer of Hughes, who was also named the players’ player of the year at the iPro Stadium.
Hughes, however, is solely focused on England’s Euro 2015 campaign.
Gareth Southgate’s side open their campaign with a fixture against Portugal tomorrow.
Tiote, meanwhile, has spent the past five seasons at St James’s Park, but the 28-year-old’s days at the club look numbered.
Last September, then-manager Alan Pardew admitted Tiote had become “unsettled” at the club by interest from an unnamed club.
The Ivory Coast international went on to make just 10 Premier League starts during an injury-ravaged campaign.
Tiote struggled for form and fitness in the first half of the season, and missed the second half of the campaign with a knee injury suffered at the African Cup of Nations.
McClaren, however, worked with Tiote at his former club FC Twente.
And he has suggested that he might yet have a future at St James’s Park.
He said: “I like Cheik – I know him well – and I’m looking forward to working with him again.”