Back in January, the Scottish Sun reported that Celtic were set to be beaten to Hearts’ Aaron Hickey by Crystal Palace.
The Sun stated that Palace were ready to meet the £1.5million price-tag, but they also claimed that Celtic fancied the youngster for themselves.
In the end, Palace didn’t make an offer and Hickey has stayed at Tynecastle. The youngster has played in their last four matches and, after struggling with a knee injury, appears to be first-choice once again after making 29 appearances this term (Transfermarkt).
And if Celtic are still interested in taking the 17-year-old, they may want to keep tabs on developments between now and the end of the season.
Hearts are stuck in a relegation battle and remain rooted to the bottom of the Premiership. There are no guarantees that they’ll survive, and if they don’t, cost-cutting measures will likely be put in place for the Championship.
There may be a deal to be done
That’s where Celtic could potentially swoop in and nab him for a much smaller fee than the £1.5m reported in January.
And it’s not just down to the fact Hearts could be in the Championship either. As things stand, Hickey’s contract runs out in the summer of 2021 (Transfermarkt). That means that when the new season begins, he would be free to talk to clubs for nothing in just six months.
It stands to reason that Hickey may want to put off signing a new deal until he sees where Hearts are next season. The last thing he’ll want is to be stuck in the Championship next year given his burgeoning reputation.
The summer could be Hearts’ last chance to get any sort of fee for their youngster. Come January, clubs will likely be more tempted to discuss a pre-contract for the following summer given his inexperience.
Celtic would also likely fall into that category given Hickey still has some way to go before he’s good enough to play in the Parkhead first-team. But it would be a chance for Celtic to get one of Scotland’s highest-rated prospects tied down at Lennoxtown for next to no risk. If we pay a small fee for Hickey, the pressure is off. It’s a different narrative if we splash almost a couple of million on his services.
We have to remember that Hickey is only 17. There’s plenty of scope there to develop so long as he doesn’t cost a sizable sum. As things stand, an opportunity could arise for us this summer if circumstances dictate.