Two of Aston Villa’s most important players have been there since the Sky Bet Championship – and they’re still having a major impact.

Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy


John McGinn extended his stay at Aston Villa this morning by signing a new, long-term contract which would keep him at the club until the age of 32 and would mean upon the expiry of the deal, the club captain would have been in B6 for nine years.

Fresh from Scotland international duty that saw the side cement their place at the top of their EURO qualification group and remain unbeaten, McGinn arrived at Bodymoor Heath to put pen to paper and follow in the footsteps of other key player Tyrone Mings in extending his stay.

Interestingly, two of the most recent players to extend their stay at the club under boss Unai Emery are two players who were there at the beginning of the process, under former boss Dean Smith and were key to the club’s return to the Premier League. In fact, John McGinn scored Villa’s vital second goal on the day of the Play-Off Final which helped to secure their return.

Despite countless new arrivals to the club over the past few years and dips in form for both of the aforementioned players, they are just as important to the side as they were back in the Sky Bet Championship.

Both men are leaders, albeit in different ways, on and off the pitch, and continually paint the club in a positive light.

28-year-old McGinn and 30-year-old Mings were both arguably in the form of their careers towards the end of Unai Emery’s first season and were major parts of Aston Villa qualifying for Europe for the first time in 13 years. Earlier in the season, Mings had been ostracised by former manager Steven Gerrard and made to be a scapegoat for the club’s poor end to the previous season and poor start to the latest, while McGinn was also struggling under Gerrard and was beginning to fall out of favour with fans over his form.

If either had been painted as being in line for a new contract before Emery’s arrival, most fans would have probably laughed at the idea of either deal.

Both Mings and McGinn have credited Emery for their return to form, and also praised “getting back to basics” – with Emery stating Mings was trying to do too much on the pitch and that he should focus on being a left-sided centreback, and getting McGinn to work with coaches on how he used his body and shape with to his advantage while playing as a wide midfielder in Emery’s system.

The club’s nucleus since being in the Premier League has consisted of McGinn and Mings, and also includes two players who were signed in Aston Villa’s first summer window in the top division, Ezri Konsa and Douglas Luiz – the latter of whom has also signed a new deal in the weeks surrounding Emery’s arrival. All of these players are still important to the club and continue to have an impact.

Exposure to different coaching methods, and especially the methods of Unai Emery, has elevated these players to a different level and allowed them to play a huge part in the club’s return to European competition.

Over the past five years, discussion has often mentioned ‘continuous improvement’ in Aston Villa’s hunt for a top-half finish and search for Europe. These players have shown that improvement and have been a part of the journey – from being part of a renewed Premier League side to a side in a position to knock at the door of the so-called big six.

The nucleus of this Aston Villa side has been rooted in the journey the club has been on, and each player has remained an important part despite the squad’s consistent evolution in recent years. Whether the likes of McGinn and Mings will still be a part of the ever-changing spine of the squad as their contracts reach their next conclusion remains to be seen – but for now, the club’s evolution can be seen through the lens some of it’s most important players performances.

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