Sam Hughes continues to see his stock rise with Chester FC .
The 19-year-old, donning the captain’s armband once again, thundered home the winner for the Blues at Torquay United on Saturday and earned Chester a valuable 1-0 success .
His marauding performance at right-back demonstrated his quality and showed just why he is coveted by so many big clubs.
The academy graduate from West Kirby is out of contract at the end of the season and has been offered a new deal, but even the most hopeful of Blues fans would be likely to admit that his football next season is destined to be played at a higher level.
As they have been for much of the season, scouts were in attendance to watch Hughes on Saturday and they would certainly have been impressed.
Premier League and Championship clubs been keeping a watchful eye on the teenager, Chester’s youngest ever captain, and there could be a battle for his signature when it comes to a tribunal in the summer.
Here’s who could be in the running.
The Tykes had a firm offer, believed to be around £75,000, rejected by the Blues in January, with Chester valuing their asset at a higher price.
The Championship have previous form for bringing on young talent under manager Paul Heckingbottom. The likes of John Stones, Alfie Mawson, Marc Roberts, James Bree and Mason Holgate have all shone at Oakwell and the Yorkshire side believe that Hughes could be the next to follow.
Barnsley are expected to renew their interest in the summer and will likely be firmly in the mix.
The Premier League side have sent scouts on a regular basis to see Hughes in recent weeks and their interest is growing with each passing game.
Scouts were watching on Saturday from the Eagles and they would have had plenty of positive things to report back on.
While one of the biggest names in for Hughes, the path to first-team football seems the most difficult at Selhurst Park.
The Swans almost pulled the trigger on a bid for Hughes on deadline day but, unable to get the business done that they wanted to, that never materialised.
Scouts from the South Walians have been in attendance on several occasions and it is understood that they remain very keen on the teenager as they look to bolster their under-23 side with quality youngsters with senior experience.
Former Chester striker Oli McBurnie has thrived with the Swans U23s and he will likely have plenty of good things to say to his employers about the experience gained at the Blues and how the National League served him well.
They will be in the mix.
Late arrivals to the party, the Clarets are very keen on Hughes.
Sean Dyche’s Premier League side have a brand new, state of the art training complex and are aiming for Category Two academy status and are looking to stockpile their U23 side with quality.
Former Alfreton Town boss Nicky Law is now head of recruitment and they have taken players from non-league football in recent months.
Former Chester City loanee Graham Lancashire, who played for the club during the 1993/94 season, is academy operations manager at Turf Moor.
Wolves have sent scouts to watch Hughes several times this season but were cool on their interest in January.
He remains on their radar and may become more actively engaged when it comes to the summer but it would be a surprise to see Molineux as the destination.
Assistant manager Chris Iwelumo is a former Wolves player and academy coach.
Queen’s Park Rangers
Like Wolves, they have been interested but haven’t moved any interest past a couple of scouting missions.
Big interest from the Cottagers in Hughes early in the season and they were, for a brief spell, the club who appeared the most keen during the first three months of the campaign.
Interest has cooled somewhat but they have sent scouts in recent weeks to check on the progress of the teenager.
Villa sent scouts to watch Hughes several times in December and January but a bid never materialised before the end of the transfer window.
They remain in the hunt, though, and the summer could see them show their hand. They also have plenty of financial muscle and are unlikely to see an outlay for Hughes as a huge risk.
Chester boss Jon McCarthy is a legendary figure at St Andrews so it is hardly surprising to learn that they have sent scouts to assess Hughes this season.
Interest from them isn’t thought to be as firm as some, though, and it remains to be seen whether they are in a position to make a move once the defender comes to the end of his current deal.
Another Premier League team who have had Hughes watched.
Boro, currently battling against the drop, have a strong academy set up and a physical defender like Hughes who boasts plenty of senior experience would be a strong addition.
Not regular visitors to watch him, though, although that may change during the next six games.