More than a few eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa finally concluded a transfer saga to bring Tyrone Mings back to the club following an incredibly successful loan stint in the Championship. Villa’s first attempts to seal a deal with Bournemouth, Mings’ club at the time, were rejected. Immediately after Villa’s play-off final win, it was clear that AVFC would have to make a special bid to land a special player. An initial fee £20 million was thrust onto the table and gleefully accepted. The outside world looked on, almost in horror. Radio pundits clutched their chests in shock, and in the feigned roars of laughter begat by a 24 hour sporting news cycle they themselves spawned a fierce siege mentality within Villa fans when it comes to media criticism from the direction of a perceived media elite. Only those who knew Villa intimately would know what the club had gained in the form of Tyrone.
After leaving Wembley victorious with a medal in hand, Mings turned up in his full Villa gear at Bournemouth train station. From that moment on, as May faded into June, it was clear that he was a Villan. While it seemed from the outside looking in that Mings’ transfer took eons to complete - in hindsight we can safely say that he never once played football outside of a Villa kit since concluding his loan. It was a done deal, in truth, the second Mings left Bournemouth on loan in the first place. A player - a future great in the position it would now seem like - who wasn’t provided a pathway into the first-team. All Bournemouth had to do was name the price for their unwanted asset, because Villa were always going to match it.
How could they not? According to The Athletic’s Gregg Evans, it was Villa CEO Christian Purslow who pushed to sign Tyrone Mings for a fee that could see Mings end up as Villa’s record signing at £26 million should certain conditions be met. The initial fee of £20 million is incredibly steep, especially when compared to Björn Engels who cost less than half of that amount. However, Mings is rolling with the punches - and thus far he has proven that he is worth every single penny, and then some.
He aided in the siege of North London, which saw Villa eventually submit to Tottenham’s dominance. A heroic display at the back with Engels, Mings and Heaton won Villa plaudits as Spurs shoved Villa deep into the final third and kept them there. The Villa defender showed his attacking impetus though as he sent a pitch-long pass to John McGinn from the back following the near-iconic drop of the shoulder, turn the attacker and pass combo move. On another day, it would have seemed like a finisher.
Mings’ second task of the season was to deal with a lethal Bournemouth attack - Callum Wilson and Josh King - his former teammates. Better the enemy you know, right? Villa collapsed early on to allow The Cherries a two-goal lead within fifteen minutes. To Mings’ credit (and to the credit of his defensive partner Engels), the scoreline in the opening moments of the match had entirely nothing to with him - but as a leader, he helped settle the team and carry them forward. Villa certainly didn’t look as shaken when they grew into the game, testament to their starting eleven.
The Premier League has been a difficult test for Aston Villa in the opening two matches, but we are able to see certain players shine. Tom Heaton, in his first match, put on an incredible display despite his mistake in the next outing. John McGinn and Jack Grealish are still running this midfield, and only require slight tweaks to win tangible success on the pitch. Engels looks like a steal.
It’s a little bit different for Tyrone Mings though. He’s had to win these plaudits. Villa fans weren’t sure of what they had when he came in. Left-back? Centre-back? Injury record? What is Mings to us? When the player won the hearts and minds of Villa fans, he faced yet more questioning when Villa signed him. Through the constant white noise you could hear constant discussion of the steep fee, of the injuries, of the worth, of the talent. Some of us would trade in doubt in the wake of these comments. If Tyrone started doubting his own worth due to this, it’s hardly evident. He looks completely at home in the Premier League
He seems unbreakable even in the wake of a loss. Confident when pushed onto the back foot, calm under all of the pressure in the world. If mistakes are committed by the team, Mings carries them as well and pushes on. He leads the league in clearances, and in shots blocked. He wins most of his tackles and aerial battles. His trick combo turn-and-pass has won him an assist already. Wyscout’s defensive index rates him amongst the best, somewhere between the colossal Harry Maguire and the commanding Toby Alderweireld for performances so far.
Questions anyone? There shouldn’t be. Mings has answered them already. And to think, he got rejected by a convenience store at a job interview once upon a time. Now, the only person that Tyrone Mings needs to prove himself to would be England Manager Gareth Southgate.
He’s already the next great Villa centre-back.