Liverpool have been handed a massive blow in their pursuit of Will Hughes as the Derby County star has committed future to his club by signing a long-term deal.
The Reds' boss Brendan Rodgers was reportedly keen on signing the youngster as a long-term replacement for skipper Steven Gerrard. However, the former Swansea City boss will now have to look elsewhere as Hughes' contract extension binds him to the Rams till 2018.
A statement on the Derby's official website read, "England Under-21 international Will Hughes has become the latest player to commit his future to Derby County, after the 19-year-old today put pen-to-paper on a new long-term deal."
"The Rams' Academy graduate has penned fresh terms, which has extended the midfielder's contract by four years to the summer of 2018."
Derby manager Steve McLaren too expressed his delight at being able to retain one of his star performers from the previous campaign for the upcoming season.
The 19-year-old played a huge role last season as the Rams finished third in the table. But Derby missed out on being promoted to top-flight via Play-offs after losing 1-0 in the final against Queens Park Rangers, courtesy a last-minute goal from Bobby Zamora.
"We're pleased that Will has decided to extend his contract with Derby County for the next four years. He is promising young talent and we're looking forward to working with him over the next few years to help continue his development," the former England boss explained.
Hughes was also linked with a move to Liverpool during the January transfer window but the club's chief executive Sam Rush denied the possibility of the youngster's departure.
However, reports have suggested that the Premier League runners-up have agreed a 'first option' deal with the Championship club for the midfielder's services as part of Andre Wisdom's mid-season loan move to Derby in October last year.
Hughes claims that there is 'something good' waiting in the wings in the future at Pride Park, hoping that the team can achieve promotion next year.
"I have been enjoying my football over the last couple of years and I am glad that I have extended my contract. I think there is something good around the corner next year so hopefully we can kick-on," Hughes told Derby's official website.
"I think the fact that we (Jeff Hendrick, Craig Forsyth and Jake Buxton) are signing long-term contracts - which is quite a long time - shows that we are committed to the Club and we think there is something around the corner in the next couple of years."
"I am happy here and I think that is the most important thing. I am young, I am playing football and enjoying it; so you cannot really ask for much more at my age. I am enjoying it here and I feel at home, so there is no reason for me not to have signed the contract,"
"It shows ambition from the Club as well to tie us down for four years and hopefully we can repay them and get promoted next year. All I want to be doing is learning and to have the chance to do that under the Gaffer we have at the moment is excellent," the young midfielder concluded.