So, it’s almost official. Subject to a medical and an agreement over personal terms, Will Hughes will become a Crystal Palace player.
The Watford midfielder’s contract ends in June 2022, and he has refused a new £60,000-a-week deal at Vicarage Road in order to try a new challenge.
It looks like that challenge will come at Selhurst Park, after The Athletic revealed we’ve agreed a £6m fee with the Hornets.
So, what will Hughes bring to Patrick Vieira’s squad?
Composure, durability and versatility
There’s no doubt about it, we’re getting a bargain here.
For just £6m, Dougie Freedman has found a classy midfielder right in the midst of his prime years at 26.
Crucially, he’s quite a durable player too, something we’re desperate for given our tendency to pick up injuries.
As Transfermarkt shows, Hughes hasn’t suffered an injury since 2019.
Last but not least, he’s versatile. As The Athletic detailed, he can operate as a deep-lying No.6, or in a more advanced No.8 role like Conor Gallagher.
Will Hughes will make Cheikhou Kouyate look much better
As we documented after the 0-0 draw with Brentford, Cheikhou Kouyate really isn’t the deep-lying midfielder we need under Vieira.
The £9.5m man kept getting caught out in dangerous areas, while his ability and technique on the ball really isn’t that polished.
In Hughes, we now have a player comfortable in collecting the ball from Joachim Andersen and Marc Guéhi, before turning and building an attack.
That should make Kouyate look so much better, as the Senegal international can then focus on what he’s good at – breaking up the game and being the defensive colossus that he is.
Simply put, we can have no complaints about Hughes’ imminent arrival.
Dougie Freedman, take a bow.