Will Hughes

This is our “prospecting the prospects” series, where we run the rule over lots of FPL prospects who will enter the game next season– our directory for these (over 20!) is here. This series analyses a selection of significant newcomers to the FPL game by simulating how they would have performed using last season’s stats (wherever they played) in FPL, then provide our evaluation of the player as an asset ahead of the new season.

On 24th June, Football Manager legend (seriously, buy him, play him, develop him – 5 star player for any Champions League team) signed for Watford as part of new manager Marco Silva’s revolution for around £8m (bargain on FM!). He has admirably come back from a horrendous leg-break in the 2015-16 season.

Like with our previous articles in this series we will be using WhoScored to review his potential for as an FPL asset.

Prospecting the prospect (using last season’s data)

Appearances: 38 appearances (28x played over 60 mins, 10x subbed on/off) = 66 points ((28×2)+10)

Goals: 2 goals (5×2) = 10 points

Assists: 3 assists (3×3) = 9 points

Bonus: To give an estimation of the bonus points he would have got, we need to review the games that he was instrumental in, ie when his goals and assists arrived to come to a rough calculation of how well he did.

(Occasional random bonus points (bps) are sometimes awarded in FPL where a player has bossed it but not actually got on the score card. We’re not estimating these as we’re using pure data rather than contextual data (e.g. watching the games he played in) to make perform this analysis. Plus it’ll only be an extra one or two points either way, which won’t change the story.)

For goals: Hughes didn’t score too many, so our usual breakdown by game winning, result changing and contributions isn’t worth it. He added the 3rd for the Rams (in a game featuring a “Lord” Nicklas Bendtner own goal) in the 3-0 “Clough Derby” against Nottingham Forest on 11th December. He also did the same, but this time to put his side 3-1 up, in the eventual 3-2 victory over Reading on 21st January. Nil points for bonus for those.

For assists: He assisted Derby’s winner in the 1-0 victory over Preston on 16th August. He did the same for a Tom Ince opener in the 2-0 victory against Cardiff on 27th September. The last time he assisted was the second Derby goal in an eventual 3-2 victory over Wolves on 5th November. Let’s say he got 1bp in each of those games where he set up the winner. 2bps.

Total guesstimated bonus: 2 points

Not conceding: 13 clean sheets (1×13) = 13points

Disciplinary: 10 yellow cards = 10 points0 red cards

Scores on the doors

90 points. He appeared in 38 games, so we could leave it at that. That’s the top 140 players, equal to Nick’s fave Ben Davies and Matt Lowton. That’s the top 60 midfielders, one below the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Marten De Roon, and one above the likes of Alex Iwobi and Andre Ayew.

Not the best, but you should’ve guessed from the fact we didn’t go a breakdown that it wasn’t going to be too much. Let’s be nice to him as he has been recovering from a leg break, and do his points per game (ppg) over the 28 full 90s he played, which works out at 3.21ppg. which works out as him getting 122 points for the year had he played 38 games (i.e. 3.21 x 38)

That’s in the top 60 players overall, equal to Theo Walcott. That’s the top 30 for midfielders.

Evaluation and conclusion

FM hero; FPL non-entity

Probably the first thing to say about Will Hughes is that, unless he embarks on a flurry of goals at an unsustainable rate like his new team mate Etienne Capoue did at the beginning of last season, he will be almost definitely be one you can happily avoid for in FPL terms. He’s very much a man in the engine room, shuttling up and down the pitch, retrieving the ball and playing it forward to others: a deep lying playmaker (support) in Football Manager parlance. His best season was 4 goals and 6 assists in 13/14, but he seems to have taken a step backward in terms of output since then. A very bad injury in 2015/16 also saw him miss that entire season.

In terms of comparators, one that comes to mind is new team mate Tom Cleverley’s year at Everton as “one of the most sensational free transfers” for Roberto Martinez (hmm, quite… pass it sideways again, Tommo!), as their output (albeit Cleverley’s being mostly in the Premier League) is fairly similar, season to season. That year, Cleverley’s most productive ever, he managed 2 goals and 5 assists – 77 points in the Premier League over 22 appearances; 3.5ppg (77/22) which would have elicited an output of 133 points. To me, that sounds like the top end of what Hughes could produce.

Bournemouth superstar Andrew Surman is another person who is a good comparator for Hughes, with 3 goals and 6 assists in their 2014/15 Championship winning season (registering a similar level of shots per game (spg) – Hughes on 0.9spg and Surman on 0.8). Stepping back into the Premier League (he also had a spell at Norwich), his three assists in 15/16 saw him elicit 90 points over 38 games.

Hughes is likely to come somewhere between these two figures, with something in the early 100s (Darren Fletcher on 103 is a good yardstick) is likeliest. The only way Hughes will gain any traction is if he is a sudden revelation and getting in the goals consistently. Who knows: maybe Silva will play him forward and he’ll become an FPL machine? But the stats suggest that’s unlikely.

On price: if he’s 5.0m, he’s definitely out of our reckoning, and if 4.5m he might make it into some squads as a random choice for 5th midfielder.

All of this suggests that, despite all of my affection from him as the lynchpin of many a successful FM side, and him undoubtedly being a good footballer with great potential, he probably won’t be a factor in our thinking for FPL unless he surprises.

Overall rating: 1.5 / 5 – A poor prospect for FPL

*derived from a completely subjective scale from 1-5, where 1 is bad and 5 is excellent

Caveat: we thoroughly accept this system of evaluating players isn’t flawless. However, we feel that it’s a nice approach to getting a feel for how a player might do.

Please share us if you like what you've read or heard!