Recent reports have suggested that Aston Villa are in the race for Inter Milan defender Stefan De Vrij, with the Dutchman set to be available for as little as £15m, with just a year remaining on his existing deal.
That news comes amid suggestions that manager Steven Gerrard is eyeing a new left-sided centre-back this summer, throwing into doubt the future of England international Tyrone Mings.
Further rumours this week have also claimed that the current club captain could well be moved on in the upcoming window, with fellow defender Ezri Konsa another name potentially on the chopping block.
Such speculation illustrates a notable decline this season for Mings, in particular, with the 29-year-old having gone from starting group stage games at Euro 2020 to fearing for his place at club level, all in the space of just ten months.
Pundit Danny Mills has previously suggested that the former Bournemouth giant was “fortunate” to earn a Three Lions call up in the first place, while the 44-year-old also more recently slated the Villa man for his current displays, insisting that there “seems to be a mistake in his game somewhere.”
The statistics also prove rather damning, with the £28.8m-rated man part of a backline that has shipped 46 goals this season – the tenth-worst in the division – while he has also given away one penalty and committed one error leading to a goal in the top-flight this term.
In De Vrij then, Gerrard appears to have identified a viable alternative, with the 30-year-old offering a wealth of experience, having made 55 caps for his country as well as being a vital part of Antonio Conte’s title-winning Inter team last season.
As for this term, as the Italian giants chase a second successive Serie A title, the £116k-per-week “monster” – as he has been described by former Lazio teammate Mauricio – has caught the eye again, averaging 1.8 clearances, 1.3 tackles and one interception per game.
Not just impressive defensively – with the one-time Feyenoord man lining up on the left of a back three at the San Siro – he is also comfortable in possession, ranking in the top 5% for pass completion among centre-backs in Europe’s top five leagues.
As the current Villa boss seeks to take the ambitious club back towards the European qualification places next season, a quality upgrade such as De Vrij could be what is needed, with £80k-per-week Mings the man who must give way.