With Manchester United winning and Liverpool drawing over the weekend, the Reds now find themselves six points back of their rivals with just two games to go in the season. Goal differential, though, where United are 14 better off than Liverpool, means even dreams of an unlikely top four miracle are over for the fans. It could always be worse.
At the other end of the table it most certainly is, and that’s where Burnley sit today, in 19th place on 29 points and officially relegated from the Premier League. This despite the best efforts of Danny Ings, who for a side that has managed a mere 19 goals this season has tallied 10 goals and four assists. A goal or assist every 200 minutes isn’t a good return. Neither is an 11% strike rate.
Yet the striker shows solid movement and, so the theory goes, could benefit from a better surrounding cast. Or at least that’s what Liverpool fans are desperately telling themselves today with news emerging from a number of journalists with ties to the club that the Reds’ interest in Ings is very much real and he is likely to become the first signing for the first team this summer.
A tribunal fee would have to be paid, and there is a widespread belief that Burnley are hoping for a £7M payday for the 22-year-old Ings—the same fee Liverpool paid two summers ago for Iago Aspas, who similarly stood out as the main goal creator and best attacking player in a poor side. The Liverpool Echo, though, believe the Reds have no qualms about paying such a fee.
As was the case with Aspas, Ings seems a smart striker and willing runner, and he has been key in what little success his club has had this season. Also like Aspas, few who have watched him see much more than a squad player for a top side—though in Aspas’ case, the Spaniard was La Liga’s top creator not playing for Real Madrid or Barcelona during the 2012-13 season.
Ings isn’t a bad player, and he’s even decent value at around £7M, a solid squad option with some limited upside and a chance he develops into a better finisher. He’s hardly the clinical and complete striker Liverpool need, though, especially with Daniel Sturridge set to miss the start of next season and serious doubts as to whether he will ever be a regular contributor again.
All of which brings to mind a more recent striker signing: Rickie Lambert. A decent fee for a solid squad player who showed smart movement. And a signing that would have been perfectly acceptable if Liverpool had a genuine front line striker capable of staying fit playing ahead of him. That’s what Ings is. As a replacement for Lambert or Borini, he’s probably even an improvement.
If, as with Lambert last summer, Liverpool fail to follow up the signing of Ings with the purchase of a true front line striker, it will be a potential disaster signing that sets the club up for yet another futile, wasted season.
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