According to the Sun, Crystal Palace are interested in signing young Hearts left-back Aaron Hickey, but face competition from Celtic in this £1.5million race.
Aaron Hickey, 17, has made 25 appearances for Hearts this season, scoring once, while his overall tally for the Edinburgh club is 29 appearances in all competitions. He has become a mainstay in the Hearts team, thanks to Craig Levein and Daniel Stendel’s respective faith in him.
Celtic released Hickey as a kid but are reluctant to meet Hearts’ asking price. They are entitled to 30% of any transfer fee involved, so it will benefit them if Crystal Palace get their target, the report adds.
Crystal Palace are in need of a new right-back, as Joel Ward is Roy Hodgson’s only natural option in the role – Martin Kelly, who is visibly more comfortable at centre-back, has deputised at times this season. As far as the left-back area is concerned, they do have a lot of bodies in the squad to at least sustain this season.
Patrick Van Aanholt is the only natural option for the left-back role, while Jeffrey Schlupp and Jairo Riedewald are capable of providing cover. Van Aanholt has performed very well over the last few seasons at Selhurst Park, nailing down his place in Hodgson’s starting XI. He has played 17 league games so far this season, scoring two goals.
However, with the Dutchman set to turn 30 in August, Hodgson should start planning for the left-back’s long-term replacement. In that regard, going for Aaron Hickey would be a smart move for the Eagles.
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Hickey has caught the eye with a series of impressive displays this campaign and has been a stand out performer in an otherwise poor Hearts side.
He has become a reliable Premiership player at such a tender age and will certainly continue improving with regular opportunities. The 17-year-old has proven that he can play on either flank for Hearts, although he’s also comfortable operating in central midfield.
The report claims Palace are happy to loan Hickey back to Hearts for the rest of the season should they sign him. The teenager needs games to continue his development and if Palace do it, he will arrive in South London ahead of the 2020/21 season with some more experience.