When Danny Ings confirmed he was leaving Burnley at the end of the season upon the expiration of his contract, Liverpool was seen as the likeliest destination. Clubs such as Manchester United, Real Sociedad, and Tottenham Hotspur were also rumoured to be interested in the young forward who played a great deal in the 2014/15 Premier League campaign.
Liverpool, though, were always favourites, and Ings nearly agreed a move in the January transfer window, with Liverpool keen to avoid a tribunal and beat David Moyes to a player the ex-Everton and United manager was pushing hard to agree a pre-contract deal with. Now set to join the Reds, only 12 players scored more Premier League goals than Ings last year, so are the club getting a good deal?
DOB: 23/7/92 (22) | Height: 5’10" (1.78 meters)
2014-15 Season: 37 appearances
11 goals, 4 assists
Strengths: Liverpool are getting a young player who has been quite productive in the final third over the past two seasons in both the Championship and Premier League. Plundering 21 goals in 40 appearances in England's second tier and following that with 11 goals in 35 appearance in a first top flight season in one's early twenties suggests some promise in a striker. His form over this period has resulted in England under-21 recognition, a Football League Championship Player of the Year award, and interest from bigger clubs. A 43% shot accuracy and 12.6% strike rate from over 3000 minutes in the Premier League represents a good introduction to the most financially bloated league in world football, providing evidence that Ings can score goals.
If Liverpool fans think of a type of forward that should flourish under Brendan Rodgers with the style of players already thriving in the first-team squad, a player who possesses good movement, decent finishing, admirable work rate, deceptive aerial ability, and capability in dribbling should be an excellent fit. Ings is all of that, and has also scored in ten separate Premier League games, albeit against mostly lowly Premier League opposition. Effective ball carriers who possess decent pace are useful players to call upon, and Ings can count himself among that number as a support striker or lone forward.
Liverpool are getting an excellent player mentally who never stops running, and make no mistake, this is a wonderful quality to have. In many games for Burnley, Danny Ings just kept on going. Good and great teams possess strong characters and excellent team players with a spirit that pushes them on to further success whether it's beating relegation, attaining promotion, pushing the club to new heights, or winning trophies. Burnley may have suffered relegation, but Ings certainly wasn't the problem. Reading this interview with the player makes you want him to succeed as he seems to be saying and doing the right things, although it's worth noting that while at Burnley he has often spoken of the need for playing time at his next club.
Weaknesses: As touched on, while he's looked good against lesser opposition, Ings hasn't made a serious impact against the bigger sides in the Premier League. Although he benefited from the tactical coherence and admirable organisation Sean Dyche instilled in the squad, Ings looks short of the quality necessary to truly thrive at a club with designs on finishing in the top four. His footballing style seems rather basic technically, with a lack of finesse and calm in his all-round game. While his hurried approach and tenacity can indeed trouble defences, it's unlikely to push Ings further than being a reserve striker for Liverpool.
His form also dipped quite a bit starting in February as speculation over his future intensified, but how much those struggles were on Ings and how much they simply reflected Burnley as a whole struggling during that period in a forlorn fight against returning to England's old division two is up for debate. Either way, there may be difficulties in adapting to a squad role after two seasons where Ings has seen a great deal of first-team action under Dyche, making acclimatising to a new role potentially troublesome.
In short, overall quality is the chief concern for a player whose game can still develop, but may not develop enough for the level Liverpool require and demand if they're to ever again become a top four fixture and a side that can regularly challenge for silverware.
Summation: It is only fair to acknowledge that this particular writer wrote last month that signing Danny Ings would be a case of a club repeating previous mistakes. This transfer does not inspire much excitement or confidence in Liverpool remedying the striking ills of last season, but what would constitute a successful start to a relationship between Ings and Liverpool? Probably just a few goals. If he scored six or seven goals with a few assists as a rotational option across various competitions, that would be a decent return from a 23-year-old who came in relatively cheaply. It wouldn't be just goals, but stretching defences and working opposition markers to set the tempo for a side from the start or the bench. It's not inconceivable for a player like Danny Ings to do that.
Can Danny Ings be more clinical than Fabio Borini and more suitable than Rickie Lambert or Mario Balotelli? Probably. This is a deal that generally carries relatively little risk. One wouldn't expect Liverpool's transfer funds or wage bill to be greatly affected by securing the services of a player who has shown he can score goals over the past two seasons. If he moves at some stage over the next couple of seasons, Liverpool will surely make a profit on a player who has proved that he can at least be a worthwhile presence for many top flight clubs. Whether he can do that at clubs that expect to be in the top six is uncertain.
What should hearten supporters is that the way he approaches the game in terms of his style of play and general attitude could make him one of the more pleasant transfer surprises of recent years.