Aaron Hickey’s mooted move to Bayern Munich, where he would be among the deputies for Alphonso Davies, currently one of the world’s most exciting left-backs, has stirred understandable interest.
Several clubs have been tracking Hickey for some time now. It is Bayern Munich, whose bid to become champions of Europe for a sixth time continues tonight against Lyon in an eagerly-awaited Champions League semi-final, who appear to be leading the chase. Liam Morrison, a 16-year-old centre-back, made the same move from Celtic a year ago.
Leeds United director of football Victor Orta, who was once memorably caught spying on rivals Derby County with a pair of binoculars, recently explained the burgeoning market for young players. Those showing signs of a special talent do not remain undetected for long.
“All the information is there,” he explained in an interview with the Training Ground Guru podcast. “Everyone has access to information.
“The other day we went to watch a winger playing for Norwegian club Bodo/Glimt. It’s the third time he was in the line-up – just 16 years old. When we arrived there were 15 other scouts there from around the world.”
With so much analytical software at clubs’ disposal there are not many teenagers showing signs of potential at top-flight clubs around the world who will escape attention. Scotland is also becoming known as the place to come for left-backs. With Kieran Tierney having made such an impressive start to life at Arsenal and Andy Robertson continuing to excel at English champions Liverpool, it is natural Bayern Munich might have filtered their search on Wyscout to include only promising Scottish youngsters. Hickey is out on his own in that regard since making his breakthrough at the tail end of the 2018-19 season.
It is hard to stay under the radar when your third appearance is a national cup final at the age of only 16, as was the case when Hickey lined up in the Scottish Cup final against Celtic.
If Bayern’s interest really does translate into a £1.5 million offer to Hearts, then there is not really a decision for anyone to make. Hearts will realise they cannot stand in his way. Hickey will realise that while it is a big step to make at his age, he cannot turn down the chance to be moulded into the next Alphonso Davies, now the subject of so much interest after such an eye- catching display in Friday night’s 8-2 win over Barcelona in the Champions League.
Andy Robertson this week described the 19-year-old Davies as one of the three best left-backs in the world already. Asked by James Richardson for BT Sport to name his top three players in his position, with left-backs now the “new rock stars of football”, Robertson mentioned Davies alongside Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell and Barcelona’s Jordi Alba.
It proves that even at giant clubs such as Bayern, age is no barrier. Hickey, still only 18, will be conscious of this. Davies was only 18 and four months – merely a couple of months older than Hickey is now – when he scored his first goal for Bayern.
Robertson will also be alert to the fact that Davies made his name at Vancouver Whitecaps while playing as a swashbuckling winger – indeed, he re-engaged with this former version of himself while taking out around four Barcelona players on the way to setting up Bayern’s fifth goal on Friday night.
It proves that players of Hickey’s age and considerable talent can evolve. Craig Levein, his former manager at Hearts, has said that he sees the youngster eventually settling into central midfield. Hickey played there when he was first at Hearts and during the short spell he had at Celtic before returning to Tynecastle.
His two-footedness makes him an especially attractive acquisition. He is a better passer than dribbler and although he did score a memorable goal against Hibs from 20 yards 11 months ago, he is not particularly known for what he can do in the last third of the pitch. He was excellent in a poor Hearts team, where he was employed at left-back because of Hearts’ deficiencies and lack of other options. He seemed primed to move to a more central position. He did after all play at centre-half against Rangers in the Betfred Cup semi-final last season. Bayern can be relied on to find his most effective position. Nothing should faze him.
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