Ipswich Town defender Tyrone Mings will almost certainly be a Premier League player by next year at the latest if he maintains a fantastic start to the season, which is all the more remarkable when you consider he was playing non-league football for Chippenham Town just over two years ago.
Mings was plucked from obscurity by Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy in 2012 and it's clear to see why, with the physically imposing left-back a natural athlete that has surprising pace and acceleration for a man standing at 6'4''. Ipswich landed the youngster for just £10,000 and the promise of a pre-season friendly against Chippenham, what a tremendous piece of business that now looks to be.
McCarthy can expect to cash in on the hugely promising starlet to the tune of £8 million if Arsenal or Chelsea make their interest concrete in January, but he was nearly lost to the game altogether at the age of 16. Mings was fed a line by Southampton that's familiar to young footballers up and down the country, you are too small to make it.
Southampton made big mistake with Mings
Mings was yet another top English prospect nurtured by Southampton during his formative years, but unlike Luke Shaw, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain he never came close to getting a chance in the first-team.
Saints let Mings go after eight years in their academy setup in what must have been a crushing blow for the teenager, a spectacular error in judgement that thankfully only slowed down his rise to the pro ranks not killed it stone dead.
Mings deemed too small for the big time
The player's mother Dawn Johnson told Goal.com that Saints blamed financial restrictions on her son's release, with a further excuse of the prodigious talent being too small another damning indictment of prehistoric thinking from a top English academy.
“It’s only because of finances he was released by Southampton,” Johnson said at the time as he took up a football scholarship at Millfield School instead.
“They said he had the technical ability but didn’t have the money to wait two years for him to fill out in size.”
Thankfully for Mings he'd grown considerably by the time he got the attention of Ipswich, but even McCarthy must be surprised my just how quickly his punt at plucking a player from non-league football has paid off.
Cresswell replaced with minimum fuss
In what seems to be a feature of Mings' fledgling career he had to be patient and wait for his chance after joining Ipswich, primarily because Aaron Cresswell was the club's player of the year last season and occupied his favoured left-back spot.
Cresswell moved on to West Ham United last summer and left a void that Mings has filled in impressive fashion, providing a constant threat down the flank and showing he has the stamina required of a top modern-day full-back.
Mings was presented with the Championship Player of the Month award in September as reward for his efforts and more importantly the attention of top Premier League scouts, who are all following the lead of Crystal Palace in trying to persuade the Tractor Boys to sell their suddenly much sought-after asset.
Palace had a £3m offer for Mings turned down last summer, expect Ipswich to fetch more than double that sum when his inevitable exit eventually happens.
Does Wenger view Mings as a centre-back?
Arsenal are the club currently being most strongly linked with Mings, but given Arsene Wenger's faith in Kieran Gibbs at left-back don't be surprised if his plans for English football's new bright young thing are more central.
The Gunners have looked desperately short of cover at centre-back all season long, particularly pace when Laurent Koscielny has been sidelined and above all a figure of strength and stature, sorry Per Mertesacker.
Mings would tick both of those boxes and while raw could definitely be moulded into an elite Premier League centre-back if given time, plus the kind of care and attention in terms of coaching and progression that Gunners boss Wenger prides himself on.
Wenger has a proven track record in this department and could be about to complete one of the most remarkable ascents towards the top of English football in recent times, make sure you watch this space.