The Daily Mail says Hughes' deal as Fulham manager expired on Wednesday night, making him a free agent.
While Fulham still wish for Hughes to continue in his role, he is technically no longer their manager after a contract deadline passed.
As Fulham officials desperately tried to convince the 47-year-old to stay - and further talks are planned with the board - a June 1 break clause in his brief one-year contract kicked in.
Aston Villa is a natural new home for Hughes after Gerard Houllier left the club, but there are believed to be other options available for the Welshman.
While it is not inconceivable that a change of heart will see him stay at Craven Cottage, Hughes wants to further his career after an impressive season when he took Fulham to eighth and qualified for the Europa League through the Fair Play table.