Sunday Column: Why Steve McClaren needs to target Will Hughes

Steve McClaren has been officially in charge of Newcastle United now for over a week and half. But, he has been laid back in his approach. His first team staff members have yet to be appointed, which is worrying for fans who are longing for some silverware.

Among the endless items in his to-do list, McClaren will have a shortlist of transfer targets. The top of this list would see the likes of Charlie Austin and Bas Dost. But, Will Hughes should be right up there, and here’s why:

Steve McClaren’s Derby Days

McClaren has worked with Will Hughes in his previous position as head coach of Derby. It is reported that Hughes and McClaren had a good working relationship and with the striker itching for a move to the Premier League, Newcastle could be the perfect move.

The fact that Hughes has played under the ex-Rams’ manager will mean that he already knows his tactics inside and out. The player, who is currently with the England U21 side, should fit into the side seamlessly and take away the need of learning new tactics.

Newcastle’s Need in Midfield

Newcastle have plenty of players who can occupy the midfield area of the pitch, but have very few who look comfortable going forward with the ball. Both Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback are expert in tracking back and playing defensively, but they look out of their depth in the final third.

Hughes on the other hand looked very good moving forward with and without the ball last season for Derby County, and has scored a few goals at club level. His potential indicates he could make the step up to a more senior level and still be useful upfront.

Moussa Sissoko

Low, Low Cost

Newcastle’s hated owner Mike Ashley has never been one to spend a lot on a player. Queens Park Rangers are asking £15m for Charlie Austin, and Ashley looks unlikely to make a move for a player of that cost. But, Hughes could be available for under £5m, and that would look a bargain in many ways.

It would mean that club could press on and look at more signings at a similar cost. It would open the door for a striker to come in as well as strengthening the much depressed defence. His wages would also be lower than those of Austin and that would be another attraction for the owner.

Why not now?

So, with all this evidence, why have Newcastle taken so long to even talk to the player? He is currently away with England U21s, but that hasn’t stopped clubs before.

There have already been quiet rumours of meetings taking place between the player and the club, but I expect those to get stronger after his England duties have finished.

Besides, if he’s good enough on Football Manager, then he’s good enough in real life, right?


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