Aston Villa transfer target Will Hughes is a perfect fit for Dean Smith, according to Steve Howey.
According to The Athletic, the Midlands club have been name-checked as one of those interested in signing the Watford ace this summer as he enters the final year of his contract, and it’s a move for which Howey has delivered his backing.
Speaking exclusively to This is Futbol, he said: “Dean Smith has seen something in him and he’s been in the Premier League before so he knows what it’s all about. I can’t imagine it costing massive money to sign somebody like him so he could be a great player to have in the squad.”
With 77 appearances to his name in the Premier League, Hughes fits the bill that Smith has stated he wants from any potential new signings at Villa Park this summer.
The Villa boss said ahead of the summer transfer window: “In terms of our recruitment, we talk about the sweet spots that we’re looking for, which is that the players have Premier League experience and are (ideally) British because there is no adaptation risk at all.”
In the £30,000-a-week earning Hughes, they would get exactly that.
Adrian Mariappa, his one-time teammate at Watford, waxed lyrical about the 26-year-old’s abilities, saying: “He’s an outstanding player. To see his quality he’s got, he has so much flair and a terrific player.”
With his ability as a real box-to-box player, there’s shades of Gareth Barry to his game. The latter spent 11 years in the Aston Villa first team, playing 434 games for them before making the move to Manchester City and helping them win their first Premier League title in 2012.
Manchester City’s website describes him as a “reliable, composed and tactically astute midfielder with a knack for sniffing out danger”, adding that “his understated style of play made him one of the unsung heroes of that title-winning side”.
Hughes is cut from that same cloth of being a reliable presence in the middle of the park and effective in both boxes. As per WhoScored, he has career averages of 2.5 tackles, one interception and one key pass per game; while like Barry with 82.9%, he also rarely loses the ball, boasting an impressive 82.7% pass accuracy.
With his vast Premier League experience and his consistent performances in the engine room, Hughes could be another Mr Reliable for Villa just like Barry was.
Also, with Conor Hourihane potentially leaving the club this summer, Hughes’ arrival would reinforce Villa’s midfield considerably.