It was announced earlier today that Liverpool have agreed personal terms with the Burnley and England Under-21 striker, Danny Ings.
Most Liverpool fans, including myself, have suspected this would happen for quite a while, it was just a matter of time. Despite featuring for Burnley in the Premier League this year, I feel we are yet to see the best of Danny Ings as evidenced by his 11 goals this season for a team with a notable lack of creativity. 11 goals may not be entirely impressive, yet it poses as a greater total than that of any Liverpool striker this campaign.
The relegation of Burnley makes it difficult for any Liverpool fan to view the signing of Ings with any confidence while there is also a lot of uncertainty regarding just how much potential he has. The club needs winners and, following the torrid time Burnley have experienced in the Premier League, ex Bournemouth man will need time to discover a winning mentality.
In all honesty, I have been against the prospect of signing Danny Ings since we were first linked to him, for the very fact that I don’t believe he can offer enough to take our side to the next level in terms of re-establishing ourselves in the top four. Despite this,I feel that, given time, he possesses the traits that will help him improve and the quality that already makes him more of a threat than Borini and Lambert, which can only be seen as a step in the right direction. This highlights the issue we have had as a club in terms of our transfer policy.
It is all good calling for the signing of world class players however we must be more realistic in terms of recognising how the top players are all at Champions League clubs and, therefore, unlikely to choose Liverpool, leaving it up to us to discover talent and potential. While potential is ideal, there must also be a mix therefore it is vital our club also turns its attention towards signing quality, experienced players. This is all the more important given the departure of Steven Gerrard and I believe the signing of James Milner is a response to this.
A while back I’d question whether he is good enough for Liverpool having seen the levels of strikers like Luis Suarez and even Fernando Torres at the time, however I think the time has passed to judge players on whether they are ‘Liverpool material’ in terms of being good enough for a club of our caliber. I was guilty of this and have now realised how fans are still living in the past in terms of perceiving us as one of England’s top title challenging sides.
I support the club fully and still believe we are capable of matching the standards of teams above, but I look at us realistically at the moment and it is impossible to suggest that we are as big a club as we were in the glory days in terms of ability on the pitch. That isn’t to say the same can be said for our history as we clearly remain one of the most prestigious and historic clubs in world football. Fortunately, true Liverpool fans are becoming increasingly aware of this which has helped in giving them more detailed and justified views regarding our setup as well as greater acceptance of less proven signings we make.
My doubt surrounding how much Ings can offer us comes as a result of the fact that I expected him to stand out more within the Burnley side. He came into the Premier League with a lot of expectation on his shoulders and was tipped as Sean Dyche’s best hope of Premier League survival. From the moment the striker came into England’s top league, he was talked about as a future signing for one of the country’s top sides, which speaks volumes in terms of how highly he was rated. I can’t help but feel he hasn’t carried his Burnley side enough as the star man, however I also don’t believe Brendan Rodgers has targeted him as a partner or replacement for Sturridge, which takes the focus away from him being the main man to spark our revival.
The year of Premier League experience works in his favour however it is vital that he realises he needs to progress and improve as a player in order to justify his place in the Liverpool squad. We have seen the likes of Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren settle for the label of being a Liverpool player, without expressing a hunger to develop and adapt to the team. Having said this, I do trust that he will respect the size of the step he is taking in his career by giving his all for the club.
As always, the positives must emerge as the main focus when discussing a new signing. It can’t be overlooked that he has put in some impressive displays throughout the season, with the victory against Manchester City acting as the first time I began to realise his quality. First and foremost, he has the ability to put the ball in the back of the net and, as basic as that sounds, it is something our club has failed to do consistently all season. Taking advantage of the easiest chances is the most important trait for a striker to have and he can do that, which might just be what we need in terms of taking it back to the basics in the final third.
Besides this, he is a technician as well as a striker as evidenced by his insistence on dropping into deeper areas for Burnley this season in order to collect the ball and attempt to put his team on the attack. Without needing to do this, it is likely he would have increased his goal tally and with the likes of Adam Lallana and Philippe Countinho behind him, he can turn more of a focus towards finishing attacks at Liverpool. The need for his creativity has exhibited his passing ability as well as the amount of effort he puts in, which is pivotal in gaining the respect and admiration of Liverpool fans. If you work hard and fight, you already have half a chance of being liked.
His performances have also demonstrated how he is prepared to move across the front line in order to pick up the ball in the channels as well as centrally. This can be used effectively by Liverpool in terms of Ings dragging defenders wide to make room for Countinho, Sterling and even Sturridge to fill the gaps and really stretch the opposition. What immediately places him above Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert is his intelligence, as recognised through the thought he puts into his movement in the final third. Even if the ball doesn’t come to him, he always gives defenders something to think about while he has proven to be more clinical than the majority of the Liverpool players this season.
Ultimately, he can be perceived as a great match for the team having shown great technical ability in the form of his touch and trickery as well as his finishing and movement. An added bonus is that he can actually head a ball, which might prove significant given how we have persisted the cross the ball towards Sterling this season who, if you haven’t noticed, can’t head the ball. His presence in the England Under-21 set up will also help him develop in terms of allowing him to play amongst other rising stars such as Harry Kane, while also playing against the best young players in the world.
I expect a more accomplished striker to be brought in before the end of the window and see him as more of a squad signing but I am looking forward to seeing what he can do for us. Welcome to Liverpool, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’…