Hearts starlet Aaron Hickey among best talents in world football
Aaron Hickey has made quite the impact at Hearts since making his debut for the club back in May.
When the player stepped off the bench at Pittodrie in a 2-1 loss to Aberdeen, few could have predicted just how quickly he would develop into a key first-team star for Craig Levein.
Then the Scottish Cup final came and, aged just 16, he shackled Celtic and Scotland ace James Forrest and looked at home on such a stage. If there was one player who didn't deserve to be on the losing side at Hampden Park it was him.
Not only is he the first-choice left-back at the club, he has also appeared at right-back, right wing-back and at centre-back, not looking out of place once.
Hickey's career hit an early high point when he netted the winning goal against Hibs last month in the Edinburgh derby at Easter Road.
His rise has certainly not gone unnoticed outside of Scotland.
It has led to interest from Premier League sides, including Manchester City and Sunderland. A £2million move to the champions has been reported.
Hickey has today (Thursday) been included in The Guardian's Next Generation series which pinpoints the 60 best young talents in world football.
The Hearts defender is the only Scottish player to make the list.
Guardian journalist Ewan Murray wrote: "Manchester City’s firm interest in Hickey was stoked by a standout performance against Celtic in last season’s Scottish Cup final. In emphasising the Glaswegian’s meteoric rise, this marked just his second start for Hearts.
"A blossoming alliance between City and Hearts added to the scale of the teenager’s development, rendering it highly likely Hickey will move to Manchester before long. Celtic have also cast admiring – and perhaps rueful – glances towards a player who was briefly in their youth system before returning to the Tynecastle club.
"Hickey has operated in midfield but is now deployed most commonly as a left-back. He is two-footed, terrific at managing the ball in tight situations and composed when in possession. Although he may appear slight, Hickey is tenacious in the tackle."