HUGHES TURNS DOWN BAGGIES CONTRACT

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WEST BROMWICH ALBION have confirmed that they are willing to listen to "substantial offers" for star striker Lee Hughes after he turned down the offer of a new contract at The Hawthorns.

Hughes is reportedly keen to test Premiership waters, and it is this ambition which has led to his refusal of a package which would have made him the highest player currently on the club's payroll.

A statement issued on behalf of Albion read: "West Bromwich Albion Football Club is disappointed to announce that despite several weeks of strenuous efforts, the club has been unable to persuade Lee Hughes to sign a new contract.

"The club has offered Lee a new contract which would have made him the highest paid player in the history of the club.

"Lee has one year remaining on his current contract and though we would expect him to start the new season at West Bromwich Albion, we have to accept the realities of the situation, which mean that Lee could leave the club at the end of the season without the club receiving any transfer fee.

"As a consequence, the club has confirmed that it will give serious consideration to any substantial offer which we receive for Lee Hughes."

This latest development will undoubtedly place a number of Premiership clubs on alert over Hughes's availability.

Everton boss Walter Smith could initiate a summer bidding war for the 25-year-old, while Birmingham City and Wolves are also known to be keen on signing him.