Celtic academy graduate and Bologna star Aaron Hickey has confirmed that Celtic were after him in the summer (Gazzetta dello Sport).
Hickey, formerly of Hearts, has impressed for the Serie A outfit. Ostensibly a squad option, the Scottish left-back has played 7 times for I Rossoblù, averaging 1.3 tackles, 2 interceptions and 1.1 dribbles a game (WhoScored?).
Those kinds of stats will have Celtic fans wondering what could’ve been.
The left-back position has been a problem since the departure of Kieran Tierney (Goal). Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, Greg Taylor and Diego Laxalt have arrived to varied returns.
Bolingoli now plays for İstanbul Başakşehir on loan, following his lockdown-breaking antics (Glasgow Times). Ex-Killie player Taylor barely gets a look-in, and Laxalt is a loanee.
Europe called for Scottish youngster
As well as Celtic, Hickey had been linked to Manchester City, Bayern München and others. Realising that first-team opportunities were vital, Bologna’s approach seemed most sensible.
Hickey told La Gazzetta Dello Sport:
“Bayern are a great club, but Bologna is massive, they are of a high level, I’m sure I have chosen a big club.
The thing that most convinced me, when I came here to visit some time ago, is the family atmosphere I felt immediately. I immediately felt a good feeling.
“Did Manchester City also look for me? I would say no. Celtic? Yes.”
A wasted opportunity and familiar feeling
This isn’t the first time a promising academy product, specifically a left-back, has slipped the net.
Andy Robertson, now one of the best full-backs in world football, left the Celtic academy at 15 (Daily Record).
Although his development at Queen’s Park, Dundee United and Hull City went beyond any reasonable expectations, Celtic fans can feel somewhat aggrieved.
Now at Liverpool, Celtic fan Robertson has won the Premier League and Champions League for the Reds.
With Hickey choosing a similarly bold career path, there’s a sense of déjà vu for the Hoops.
The Celtic academy has given us countless greats over the years.
However, there’s nothing quite like watching a player who couldn’t cut it at Celtic find success elsewhere. Absolutely, you wish them well, but why couldn’t the youth coaches see back then what fans see now?
The Scotland national team can choose from 3 left-backs who are competing in the top 5 European leagues. All of them were developed by Celtic, and none of them play for us.