Aston Villa are set to back away from a move for Bologna defender Aaron Hickey, according to the latest rumours.
As per The Athletic, the Scotland teenager had been a target for the Midlands outfit, although the club have since ‘cooled’ their interest owing to the player’s reported £20m price tag.
The report suggests that Villa are in the market for a new left-sided defender, despite having signed Lucas Digne in January, with Steven Gerrard eyeing a ‘young and progressive’ deputy to the £25m Frenchman.
Sporting director Johan Lange is now set to scour the continent for another possible target, while as for Hickey, the 19-year-old is rumoured to be of interest to fellow Premier League outfit, Arsenal.
With the aforementioned Digne on one side and Matty Cash on the other, Gerrard appears well-stocked at present in his full-back ranks, although the addition of the former Hearts starlet would have provided genuine competition and cover, with the £13.5m-rated gem seemingly comfortable on either flank.
The Glasgow-born ace has caught the attention of clubs across Europe in recent times, having made the bold decision to move to Italy at the age of just 18, going on to make 48 appearances for the Serie A outfit over the last two seasons.
Having been eased in during his debut campaign, the 2021/22 season proved a real breakthrough term for the three-cap star, as he went on to score five goals and register one assist in his 36 league outings – 34 of which had come as starts.
The “special talent” – as he has previously been dubbed by former Hearts boss Daniel Stendel – has thrived for his current side of late, with such form even seeing him handed a surprise start in the recent 2-0 defeat for Steve Clarke’s Scotland side in the crucial playoff clash against Ukraine.
Although he struggled on the night – earning a dismal rating of 4/10 from journalist Matt Atkinson – the expectation is that he will go on to remain a regular for his country in the coming years, having been tipped for big things by those who have worked closely with him.
That is high praise indeed to compare him to the World Cup-winning German legend, with now-retired full-back having claimed almost every prize going in the game, while racking up a remarkable 516 appearances for the Bundesliga outfit during his 15-year senior career.
Dubbed “one of the most intelligent” players in the game by Pep Guardiola, Lahm was also able to convert into a holding midfielder during the Manchester City boss’ time in Germany, with his adaptability and quality making him one of the finest players of his era.
Like the 38-year-old, young Hickey can also be deployed in a midfield role, with his versatility making him a real asset were he to be signed by any side this summer.
At present, it looks like Gerrard and co are nearing almighty mistake if they are to let the wonderkid escape their grasp.