If you asked an Aston Villa supporter if they’d take Tyrone Mings back next season, it’s likely they’d bite your hand off.
The 26-year-old was colossal for the Villans after arriving on loan in January. Arguably, had it not been for his signing then Villa wouldn’t now be staring Premier League football in the face.
Mings arrived in the Midlands to a side who looked miles off the pace.
Scoring goals wasn’t so much an issue, but keeping them out was. They had one of the worst defensive records in the league and that wasn’t helped by an injury to Axel Tuanzebe over the Christmas period.
But what Dean Smith was able to do in January turned their season around. It may have taken until March for the club to really get going, but the Bournemouth loanee’s influence was considerable.
As Villa now return to life in the top-flight, their activity in the transfer market will have to be smart. You only need to look at the devastating consequences at Fulham after spending over £100m on new arrivals.
Given Christan Purslow’s attitude towards the football club it’s difficult to see the same happening. Shrewd deals must be completed and one of them may well be Gary Cahill.
The former Villa man was the subject of a recent report from The Sun claiming Smith’s men were interested in the central defender. At the age of 33, it goes against the grain of signing players to develop. However, it would be more than worth it.
Given Cahill’s now heading towards the latter stages of his career, you feel as though it would be nothing more than a stop gap signing.
Yet, in terms of ensuring survival, his potential arrival could be even more vital than bringing Mings back.
Either signing would be brilliant, but the England international is a far better option for what Villa need at the moment. Capped 61 times by his country, it’s unlikely you’d find a better player available on a free transfer this summer.
The defender’s contract with the Blues expires at the end of the month and after that, he’ll be a free agent. Considering his record in the game to date, Villa would be foolish to turn down the chance of signing him.
This is a man who has won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League too. It’s easy to forget just how good he was in his prime. Cahill would also go onto make the PFA Premier League Team of the Year on three separate occasions.
Those days may be gone, but besides losing an inch of his pace, his reading of the game is still exceptional.
All Villa supporters need to do is look at the impact John Terry had in 2017/18 to gain an understanding of the influence these experienced professionals can still have.
It’s hard to ignore the impact Mings could provide if he signs permanently, but as far as dressing room influence goes, reuniting Terry and Cahill could be a masterstroke.
Terry was hugely influential when he first walked through the doors of Villa Park in the summer of December 2017, leading the club to a play-off final.
Yet it was his knowledge of the game behind closed doors once he was made Smith’s assistant last October that proved to be even more important.
It was a seamless transition into coaching for Terry. It was always going to be considering how good he was. Cahill may never have reached the level of his former defensive partner at Chelsea, but he was still a consistently solid player.
You don’t get capped over 60 times for by country if you aren’t. If he were to arrive this summer, he could well be Terry 2.0 – a leader of the starting XI, and in future someone who makes a difference behind the scenes.
Cahill played just 22 minutes in the Premier League last term. However, you can’t dismiss him on that evidence alone, particularly if he is to join a lower end team in the division.
It seems like the ideal move for the centre-back and in many senses, he’d be more suitable than Mings. He’s more experienced, is adaptable and has a much greater knowledge of the top flight.
Under Eddie Howe, the Cherries man was plagued by injury, never living up to his full billing. It’s something that could hinder the Villans significantly next term if they move to sign Mings permanently.
Is it a risk worth taking? It’s difficult to know. Cahill, on the other hand, is a safer and far more reliable option in the Premier League. He’s the centre-back signing that should be prioritised.
If Villa are to ensure they avoid relegation, bringing in someone with the experience of their former academy product will be key. Smith must make it happen.