The 17-year-old England youth international is a January target for a number of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, but Fulham are thought to have moved first in the race to sign the young playmaker.
Cottagers boss Martin Jol has revealed the west London club are firm admirers of Hughes, who has sparkled in the Championship this season for Derby.
Speaking in the Daily Mirror, Jol said: “Believe me, there is probably 10 clubs in the Barclays Premier League having a look at him. He is one of these wonderful talents so he is always on lists. If you have a good scouting system, he will always be on the list but we will see.”
Arsenal have a strong reputation when it comes to buying players from the lower divisions of English football. Arsene Wenger bought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott from Southampton, and Aaron Ramsey from Cardiff, while Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is known to give youth a chance in his first-team.
Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom, all teenagers, have played extensive first-team football for the Anfield club this season. As for Chelsea and Spurs, the two London clubs are expected to be busy during the January transfer window – both have money to spend – and a move for Hughes could be on the cards.
Still, the Daily Mirror reports Fulham lead the chase for the young midfielder, and Martin Jol may feel the need for strengthening in the middle of the park is great, with Mahamadou Diarra set to join Mali at the African Cup of Nations, and Mousa Dembele, Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu all sold during the summer.