According to Italian website Corriere dello Sport, Aston Villa were keen on signing young Scottish full-back Aaron Hickey. They were joined by many others such as Bayern Munich, Celtic and Rangers but the player made the decision to make the move from Hearts to Bologna.
Hickey, 19, has hit the ground running this season after starting all seven of the opening games. In recent games he has found his touch and scored twice in three games, including a standout performance in a 3-0 win against Lazio where he played as a left wing-back.
Diving into this game gives a clear indication as to why Villa have been credited with an interest in the player.
Aside from his goal in the game, he also won a total of 15 ground duels, three tackles and was fouled on six different occasions. He possesses the necessary attacking ability to contribute going forward but also doesn’t shy away from his defensive responsibilities.
When comparing his in-game statistics with his positional peers, Hickey displays an above average talent going forward. 56% of his shots are on target which puts him within the top 4% of full-backs across Europe’s top five leagues and outlines the unique threat he poses to the opponent’s goal. Goals in his game come as no surprise following this accuracy.
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Another reason he has impressed is his composure on the ball. He has recorded an average pass accuracy of 84% but what is particularly impressive are the seven passes under pressure he makes a game. His ability to remain calm while pressed outlines why he is so effective as a wing-back or a full-back, a trait that could prove useful as Villa look to utilise a five at the back formation moving forward.
While on the ball and able to pick a pass out, he is also capable of moving forward with it himself.
He attempts over two dribbles with a 63% success rate as well as dribbling past two players a game. He is gifted on the ball and he floods forward, which was outlined in his goal against Lazio as he cut in from the left on to his weaker foot and slotted his effort past the keeper.
Another talent that will be of particular interest to Villa given their current threat from these situations is his ability to draw a foul. As previously stated he was fouled six times in his most recent performance and is fouled just under twice a game on average. Villa can utilise the free-kicks he would win to great effect and cause a genuine threat from them now due to the work of Austin MacPhee.
Villa obviously have Matt Targett currently and Hickey is far from the finished product. However, if Villa were to plan for the future and increase their depth in each position, Hickey would be the perfect mould to fit their new 3-5-2 formation.
Hickey has stated it is too early to make comparisons between himself and his Scottish counterpart, Andrew Robertson. However, given their threat going forward and commitment defensively, a comparison wouldn’t be far off and it is clear to see why teams are interested in Hickey.