Journalist Ashley Preece has provided an update regarding Aston Villa‘s interest in Bologna starlet, Aaron Hickey.
Speaking in a Q & A for Birmingham Mail, the Villa correspondent suggested that it has all gone “quiet” regarding a possible move for the Scotland international, as the club struggles to acquire a suitable backup to first-choice left-back, Lucas Digne.
Asked whether the Midlands side are out of the running for the 20-year-old’s signature, Preece stated: “As things stand, yes. Gone awfully quiet re him. Villa having trouble with targets knowing Digne is the main man to begin the season.”
This corroborates an earlier claim from The Athletic which suggested that the club view the youngster as ‘too expensive’ due to his reported £20m valuation, having been linked with a move for the four-cap gem prior to that.
Despite having added the aforementioned Digne on a £25m deal from Everton back in January, Steven Gerrard appears keen to acquire a suitable understudy, having seen Matt Targett join Newcastle United on a £15m permanent deal after his recent loan stint at St James’ Park.
While veteran ace Ashley Young can slot into a left-back role if required, the 37-year-old is yet to sign an extension with his existing deal nearing its expiry, while the belief is that the club are keen to recruit a promising young talent who can be developed over the coming years.
Hickey would then seemingly fit the bill perfectly, with the £16.2m-rated ace able to provide competition to the club’s first-choice Frenchman, albeit while being young enough to perhaps not demand a regular starting berth right away.
The £16k-per-week prospect – who is comfortable on either flank – has become one to watch in recent years after making the bold step to trade Scotland for Italy in the summer of 2020, joining Serie A side Bologna from Hearts for just £1.5m.
On reflection, that fee now appears a total bargain, with the Glasgow-born sensation having gone on to become a hugely important figure for his current side, notably enjoying a breakthrough campaign last term in which he scored five goals and provided one assist in 36 league outings – 34 of which had come as starts.
That standout form unsurprisingly alerted the attention of Scotland boss Steve Clarke, with the versatile talent handed his international debut back in March, before again earning an inclusion in the nation’s recent round of fixtures.
Dubbed “amazing” by Steven Naismith and the subject of comparisons to Barcelona legend Sergio Busquets, the attacking defender appears destined to kick on even further in the coming years, with Villa seemingly set to rue their inaction if he ends up thriving elsewhere.