The Teenager From Scotland Lighting Up Serie A

Serie A has always been a bold destination for UK footballers. Only three Scottish players have played in Serie A. Dennis Law, Joe Jordan and Graeme Souness make up that illustrious list. Or they did until the beginning of 2020. That was when an 18-year-old by the name of Aaron Hickey joined Bologna.

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The rest, as they say, was a dream. Hickey has blossomed into one of the league’s most promising youngsters, along with Mustapha Cisse, Nicolo Rovella and most recently, Dejan Kulusevsky. Hickey’s great form has already made his Scotland debut.

There is no doubt that it will add to the long line of illustrious defenders that Tartan has produced over the years. There could be a major European move on the horizon soon, with several top clubs interested. So why is everyone so excited about this teenager from Glasgow?

Playing career so far

Aaron Hickey joined the Hearts at a young age, using to play for youth teams in the mid-2000s. The Glasgow native then left for Celtic in 2014 and will stay with the Bhoys for four years. Frustrated by the lack of first-team opportunities by 2018, Hickey returned to the Hearts.

This turned out to be a very productive decision as he made his debut in the penultimate league game of the 2018-2019 season. Hickey made more history by being the youngest player to play in a Scottish Cup Final since 2008. He will go on to play 30 times for Team Hearts in 2020-21, scoring once against Hibernian, along with one assist.

Hickey’s superior performances have earned him rave reviews, with several clubs vying to sign him. Bayern Munich, Aston Villa, Lyon, Celtic and Bologna were interested parties. Eventually, Hickey decided to join the Italian side, saying,

β€œI came to see Bologna and immediately loved the feeling of everything. The training ground, the people, the city. The Serie A was a big draw, and it felt like a good move.

Needless to say, Hickey’s mission was always going to be a huge one to achieve success quickly. He made his debut in September against Parma. However, the first campaign was derailed a bit as Hickey contracted covid in December.

Hickey’s season ended in March 2021 after he sustained a shoulder injury and had to undergo surgery. That could have sent Hickey into a downward spiral but he came back stronger.

He has become a mainstay in the Bologna team under Sinisa Mihajlovic, himself a former defender. Bologna was rocking with a hickey that sparkled every time he played. This led to a major call-up to the Scottish national team in March, even earning his first minutes with the squad.

All signs point to a long and successful career at the top, with a hickey becoming a major asset to any side.

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First things first, Aaron Hickey’s numbers won’t blow any minds. He is mostly left-back in the Bologna 3-5-2 plan. Hickey has already scored four goals from xG 0.7. That puts him in the top 94 percent of players, scoring 0.16 goals for every 90 players in his position across Europe over the past year.

Hickey has a great ability to override his mark and make an offensive effect. The chart below better illustrates how Hickey is improving at a rapid rate.

Aaron Hickey stats
Data from FBref

He imagines dribbling, completing 1.02 per 90. On the defensive end, Hickey’s most notable trait is getting ahead of the ball. He averages 2.21 pieces per 90 and has the ability to increase that by sharpening his consciousness. Like most wingers/defenders these days, Hickey is expected to make significant contributions to the third attack.

Bologna has trusted Hickey by delivering a consistent streak of matches in the team, which has resulted in him becoming the teenager with the most minutes in Europe. Hickey isn’t too fond of carrying the ball around, and instead chooses to pass it to his teammates.

Some parts of his game could certainly be improved, including more defensive work. Bologna needs to defend better than attack and a hickey could become a real double threat in the future.

What stats don’t say

Quite a lot. Aaron Hickey is one of those players who pass the eye test with flying colours. He’s breezy in possession, and seems to get past the opponents with the ball. Hickey’s talent was evident from a very early age.

Says Craig Levine, president of Hearts, as he talks about his debut in BBC. β€œHe played because he was training well. I watched all the youth matches and he has improved steadily from the time he came back to us from Celtic.”

Listening to Hickey himself, it’s clear he’s having a good time. He said, “It’s been going well so far.” Watchman. β€œWith the season coming up, I thought it might be about getting back into the team after my injury and maybe going into some games, but I was able to play a lot and add a few goals as well.

So I am very happy. I wasn’t expecting to join the team so early and play regularly.”

However, one of the most important traits of a hickey is its versatility with both feet. This allowed him to play on the right flank as well when needed. Moreover, Hickey entered as a midfielder, and he checked the defense line. This gives both Bologna and Scotland plenty of positions to play hickey going forward.

What makes it special

For starters, its untapped potential. Hickey is paving the way for a big boom sooner rather than later. Given the way he has already become a regular fixture for the Serie A club, Hickey will be one of the first names on the squad. The following table shows how Hickey has thrived this season due to regular play

only league Objectives p. 90 P90 . helps pg clips 90 Creating Opportunities P90 P90 . Dribbling Accuracy P90 . interference accuracy P90 . blocks
2020-21 0.00 0.00 0.24 0.24 0.83 0.94 0.12
2021-22 0.16 0.04 0.77 0.65 1.06 0.98 0.49

History of Soccerment

Hickey is also a fan of crossing into the penalty area regularly, providing solid opportunities for his teammates.

He wants things to happen and isn’t shy about demanding the ball. Despite his calm nature and shy personality, Hickey is not a mug on the field and can skillfully hold out against much larger opponents. He has shown his desire to play anywhere on the pitch and do a great job.


The length of Aaron Hickey’s contract in Bologna is unknown. However, it is safe to assume that the club will find it difficult to resist any serious attempt. All of the above clubs are in the fray, with Milan joining the ever-growing list.

Hickey will also fight for a regular spot for the national team and, given his ability to play in a variety of positions, will see heavy minutes. Therefore, Hickey will have some options to choose his new club soon. He is not motivated by money, so Hickey will go to a place where his talent is maximized.

Barcelona could be a good option, given Jordi Alba’s advanced age and the lack of viable alternatives.

Xavi has made the Catalans play like the old days and Hickey could be a huge part of the revolution to come. However, he has plenty of time to choose from and no doubt it would be a very thoughtful decision.