Breakout Serie A teenager could give Pep Guardiola an answer to Man City’s transfer conundrum – Emmet Gates

Scottish players don’t tend to do that well in Serie A.

The great Denis Law lasted a season at Torino in the early 1960s before demanding a move back to Manchester, after being fed up with the highly regimented aspect of the Italian game.

Joe Jordan and Graeme Souness tried their luck in the early-to-mid 1980s, with some range of success. Following Souness’ departure in 1986, no Scottish player made the leap to play in Serie A for over 30 years.

But now there are two of them in the top flight.

Liam Henderson moved from Celtic to Bari in Serie B in 2018 and has since switched clubs several times. He is now impressing for Empoli, with the Tuscan club comfortably in mid-table in Serie A.

The other Scotsman in Italy is left-back Aaron Hickey, who made the bold move from Hearts to Bologna at the beginning of last season.

It was a giant leap of faith for the youngster considering he was only 18-years-old when he made the move. Moreover, Hickey reportedly turned down German giants Bayern Munich in order to seal the move to Bologna.

However, if he had any nerves about swapping the Scottish Premiership for Serie A, he hasn’t shown it.

One would imagine Hickey being gently eased into Serie A life on account of his tender age but this hasn’t been the case.

He made his full debut on the opening day of 2020/21, playing at left-back in the 4-1 win against Parma and earned praise from Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.

“Hickey has both personality and quality, he has a great future ahead of him,” said the former full-back with one of the fiercest left feet in the history of the game. “He’s lively and is learning already.

“Hickey does not speak Italian, but he had personality and I risked putting him in… and I’m happy with him.”

Injury curtailed the second half of his first season in Italy, restricting him to just 11 games in total, but as Mihajlovic noted, Hickey’s future was indeed bright.

He’s really kicked on this term and is now an automatic starter under the Serb coach. Thriving as a wing-back in Mihajlovic’s 3-4-1-2 system, Hickey is bombing forward with more regularity than he would as an orthodox left-back.

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His first Serie A goal came in a 2-2 draw against Genoa in September, courtesy of a well-taken angled shot from the edge of the box following a corner.

He’s added a further three goals since then, including a piledriver of an effort against Sassuolo in the 3-0 away win just before Christmas.

To date, Hickey has made 22 appearances for Bologna this season. So, with that in mind, is he someone for Pep Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain to keep an eye out on?

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With City potentially on the lookout for a new left-back in the summer (it was ever thus), Hickey should be on the shortlist. His ceiling of him is huge and he’s only going to get better.

A jump to the top end of the Premier League may be a step too far in this stage of his career. He will only turn 20 at the end of this season, so perhaps another season with Bologna would be in his best interests.

This would allow him the time and room to develop further, with a view to the club looking at him as a potential new signing in the summer of 2023.

But make no mistake about it, Hickey has a very bright future.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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