Time for ex-Charlton and West Ham man to be judged on football, yet Portsmouth stay forever defined by contract controversy

Jay Mingi made his full Football League debut at Forest Green in October 2022. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImagesJay Mingi made his full Football League debut at Forest Green in October 2022. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
Jay Mingi made his full Football League debut at Forest Green in October 2022. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
After more than eight months, finally the once-controversial Pompey figure can be judged purely on football.

Introduced for Cameron McGeehan in the 57th minute against Tranmere on Saturday, Jay Mingi had the fresh start he desired, albeit hardly with the club he would have anticipated.

Still, Colchester turned out to be the surprise destination as the long-running saga was at last resolved in the final hours of the summer transfer window.

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Pompey interest remains, however, despite the acrimonious severing of ties.

There will be fans intrigued whether the fanciful stance by the player and his agent has resulted in the self-destruction of a career which has shown promise.

Yet, with unspecified clauses in addition to receiving a five-figure fee, the Blues could well receive another welcome windfall further down the line should Mingi thrive.

Considering that potential profitable situation, we should wish him well amid the inevitable gloating over how the grass is not necessarily greener.

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Certainly his maiden first-team outing since New Year’s Day marked Colchester’s first home win of the season, in the process dragging them up from 22nd in League Two.

There was, of course, a time when Pompey had big hopes for the ex-Charlton man, hence the tabling a three-year deal in December.

Few were against such moves designed to retain a young talent enjoying an encouraging breakthrough season under Danny Cowley.

Removing the advantageous benefit of hindsight, at that time Mingi was largely regarded as a shining light in the team enduring a frustrating spell of one league win in more than four months.

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Having been handed a maiden League One start at Forest Green in October 2022 in a man-of-the-match display, for a while he was a fixture.

With his ability to drive powerfully up the pitch with the ball at his feet, dragging play away from the Blues’ penalty area and often winning fouls, he was unlike any other midfielder on the club’s books.

At one point, Mingi made 12 successive appearances, starting 10 of them, until injury cruelly intervened at the turn of the year.

Far from the finished article, with concerns over his ability to last a match, nonetheless he was blossoming, a young player of rich promise alongside Zak Swanson, his close friend among Pompey team-mates.

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Then, the first training session following Cowley’s dismissal, Mingi suffered damage to medial collateral ligaments in his knee during training – and never played for Pompey again, despite returning to fitness.

During his absence, Mousinho had been appointed as head coach, but circumstances had substantially changed, including in the player’s camp.

There are those at Pompey who felt once Mingi returned from injury he appeared preoccupied and distracted in training, certainly lacking conviction towards his Blues career.

The possibility of another destination had instead caught his attention, namely the promise of Championship, a belief established through rumours of a string of interested clubs.

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After all, supposedly West Brom, Birmingham and Huddersfield were on the 22-year-old’s trail, while his agent claimed three clubs had January bids rejected, including Charlton.

Mingi’s agent, who preferred not to be identified through his name, had already established himself as a notorious figure among the Fratton faithful, having previously overseen the threat of legal action in August 2021 after Pompey pulled a contract when the player collected a quad injury while representing them on trial.

Based on alleged grounds of negligence and breach of contract, the situation was resolved through offering a two-year deal to the ex-West Ham man.

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‘If Jay had continued on that trajectory, he would be going to the Championship in the summer, but obviously that’s not there now because he hasn’t played in the second half of the season.’

Ultimately, Mingi refused his deal, with the Colchester Community Stadium his eventual League Two destination.

And his Fratton Park career will forever be defined by an unsigned contract rather than those once-promising displays.