Watford are working on an ambitious move to snatch Nigeria Under-20 international Daniel Daga from under the noses of Europe’s biggest clubs.

The 16-year-old defensive midfielder was at Vicarage Road at the weekend to watch the Championship opener against QPR, according to sources. He has been tracked by Champions League clubs since playing above his age group and starring at this summer’s Under-20 World Cup, where he impressed in Nigeria’s victory over Argentina in the knockout stages.

AC Milan scouted him in the tournament and were discussing a move for the teenager who has been playing for One Rocket FC and Dakkada FC in his homeland, although Paolo Maldini’s departure as sporting director opened the door for rivals.

Watford have been among the English clubs who are looking to take advantage of the new “elite significant contribution” (ESC) rules from the Football Association that allow clubs two wildcard squad places for ESC players who do not meet current work-permit requirements.

Daga would certainly be considered a player with potential to make it to the top. He has been invited to train with Nigeria’s senior squad and was only prevented from doing so through injury, although he is expected to be invited to play with them this season. After the start he has made to his career, he has drawn comparisons with John Obi Mikel, the Nigerian who enjoyed a glittering career with Chelsea.

While Watford missed out on promotion from the Championship last season, they could provide a clearer pathway to the first team compared to some of the Champions League clubs who have been chasing Daga.

Daga would be one for the future for the club, and they are also in the market for first-team players for Valerien Ismael’s squad this season. They are leading the chase for Sory Kaba, who helped keep Cardiff City in the Championship while on loan last season. He could leave Danish side Midtjylland for £2 million.