Aaron Hickey was selected by Scotland in their emergency clash against Ukraine, giving Arsenal fans a detailed look at the player that Mikel Arteta reportedly wants to bring to the Emirates Stadium.
The defense of Bologna reportedly closes on move to the Premier League with the Gunners leading the chase as Mikel Arteta seeks to make his first signing of the summer. Gazzetta dello Sport suggests that a fee worth £ 21 million is close to being agreed, with Hickey seemingly eager to join the Gunners.
But the 19-year-old, who made his debut in March against Poland, had more serious issues to take care of after being selected by Steve Clarke for the clash against Ukraine. Line up as a right-back in the 3-4-1-2 formation, Hickey would hope to help the Scots seal their place in the final to face Wales in Cardiff.
But playing against a Ukrainian side fueled by emotion and pride amid the continued Russian invasion of their nation, Scotland could not match its superior opponents. Andriy Yarmolenko put Ukraine ahead in the first half after jumping offside trap and evoking a good lobe over Scottish goalkeeper Craig Gordon.
Calum McGregor’s strike got them back in it, but it was too little too late for Clarke’s men, and Ukraine added a third late to seal their fate thanks to
Shortly after the break, Ukraine took a giant step towards victory. Oleksandr Karavayev’s cross was met by Roman Yaremchuk’s head to double the visitors’ lead and give Scotland a real mountain to climb. And Hickey had no real chance to get up in front of the tall striker when the Benfica striker skillfully aimed his head into the far corner.
It was a difficult test for the former Hearts trainee, who was pitted against two of Ukraine’s best on the side against Everton defense Mykolenko, who bombed it forward along the side, and Zinchenko in a creative role in midfield. The couple regularly combined to make life difficult for Hickey as he was forced to track back more often than he would have liked.
Despite a difficult match, Hickey showed great effort in the second half as the Tartan Army chased a goal that would get them back into the game, and most of it came from his side rather than Andy Robertson’s. The youngster was relentless in his attempts to get the best out of Mykolenko to find the two target men in the box, Che Adams and Lyndon Dykes, showing impressive energy and speed of work.
There was boasting in the way he struck the cross that was reminiscent of Trent Alexander-Arnold. Unfortunately, his delivery was not as accurate with his crosses as the Liverpool star, leaving Adams and Dykes frustrated with the service they received.
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As the game approached the end of the 90 minutes, Hickey showed obvious signs of fatigue and that is no surprise. It was a long campaign for the defender, playing in 36 of Bologna’s 38 Serie A matches this season.
It was a match that underscored Hickey’s promise and also where the star needs to make improvements if he is to perform regularly for a team of Arsenal the class of.
But there is enough about the wonderful Scottish child to suggest that he would be a shrewd signing for Arteta, as the Spaniard is looking to build for the future.