Hackney scored the winner to send the Riverside Stadium into raptures as Middlesbrough sealed a 1-0 lead heading into the second leg later this month.
The 21-year midfielder has caught the eye in Michael Carrick’s dynamic Championship side after breaking onto the senior scene last season, making 22 appearances in all competitions.
And Carrick’s United connections could help Erik ten Hag recruit Hackney if he decides to make a big move in the summer transfer window.
According to Standard Sport, United are included in the host of elite Premier League clubs circling Hackney, and Middlesbrough are prepared for summer approaches.
Boro are said to accept that they won’t keep hold of their academy graduate, who isn’t actively looking to leave his boyhood club as they vie for a Championship play-off spot.
Hackney is a versatile midfielder who has spent most of his career in a defensive role, commonly in a double pivot. But against Chelsea, he flaunted his attacking prowess in a more advanced position.
The report claims Tottenham are particular admirers of the Boro No 7 but United are in the frame for his signature.
And while Spurs is also a former club of Carrick’s, Old Trafford is where the 42-year-old enjoyed the vast majority of his illustrious career under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Carrick lifted 18 trophies with the Red Devils, including five Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008.
He was one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s assistants before leaving alongside Kieran McKenna after the Norwegian’s dismissal. McKenna is also thriving as a Championship manager at promotion-chasers Ipswich Town.
If United come knocking for Hackney, Carrick could endorse a switch to Old Trafford as the midfielder’s next step.
Ten Hag is expected to be in the market for a new defensive midfielder in the summer despite Kobbie Mainoo’s electric emergence this season.
Casemiro could depart Old Trafford amid interest in Saudi Arabia, while Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay also face uncertain futures.
Hackney would unlikely arrive as a certain starter, given his inexperience at senior level and against other elite clubs.
But the England U21 international will appeal as a potential option to bolster Ten Hag’s midfield, a problem position this season despite significant investment since he became manager in 2022.