Southampton are reportedly set to do battle with Manchester City for the signature of Hearts defender Aaron Hickey.
The Scotsman report that the Jam Tarts are keen to hand the 17-year-old left-back a new contract following an excellent run of form in the Scottish Premiership that has seen Hickey caught the eye of both the Saints and the reigning Premier League champions, who The Sun reported in the summer were keen on the teenager.
Yet a lot has changed since the transfer window, namely the defender’s stock rising immensely.
Hickey became a club hero almost in an instant last weekend when the teenager netted the winning goal against Hibernian in the Edinburgh Derby, his first professional strike and a timely one as it came on the 84th minute.
Indeed, it is understandable as to why the Saints have entered the race for the Scottish teenager, with numbers from Transfermarkt showing that Hickey has played quite a bit of a first-team football this season, playing 10 games already and raking up over 800 minutes on the pitch.
As well as playing plenty of football for someone who is still only 17, Hickey has proven to be a useful player for Hearts this season, with positional numbers from Transfermarkt showing that the youngster is versatile enough to play away from his preferred left-back position and also operate on the opposite flank as well as further upfield as a winger.
This versatility learnt a young age could be a reason as to why Ralph Hasenhuttl has seen something in Hickey, with the Southampton manager having to play some players this season out of position to compensate for injuries.
A new contract with Hearts could see Hickey’s once reported £1.7m price tag increase dramatically, a following a summer where Celtic defender Kieran Tierney departed for Arsenal for a Scottish record £25m according to BBC Sport, Southampton might find themselves locked in a financial battle with City for one of Scotland’s most promising emerging talents.