Losing a player of Luis Suarez’s ability would unsettle the very best of teams. If Suarez were to walk out of Barcelona this summer, the club’s on field activities would suffer, and that’s even with the familiar faces of Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr to fill the void. If the departure of Suarez would cause such disruption to this star studded team, imagine the pain Brendan Rodgers felt when he reluctantly allowed the Uruguayan to depart his side for the sunny shores of the Catalonian coast. The goal machine was on the score sheet 31 times in his final season with the Anfield outfit, propelling his side into the Premier League’s top two, almost pipping eventual winners Manchester City to the title and Liverpool’s first Premier League crown. Losing a player of Suarez’s calibre is hard for any manager, but with £65 million to find a replacement (or two) it would be expected that a side that finished second in the Premier League would possess the ability to lure the world’s top strikers to their abode, with the promise of high pay packets and Champions League football.
Yet alas, Brendan Rodgers found himself the victim of a scarce transfer market, and instead opted to invest his fortune in Football League hero and former Liverpool trainee Rickie Lambert, and also took a massive gamble on Manchester City misfit, Mario Balotelli, who was deemed surplus to requirements at the Etihad, possibly due to his well publicised off the field antics. On his day, Balotelli can be unplayable. Sadly for Rodgers, that day is once every 50 games. Lambert on the other hand was never expected to get the Anfield faithful off their seats, and would seemingly provide a suitable alternative if a game was drifting beyond Liverpool’s grasp. Despite an outlay of roughly £20 million, the pair have mustered a measly 3 Premier League goals between them. To put that in to perspective, Tottenham scapegoat Nacer Chadli has 10. The experiment undertaken by Rodgers has failed, but with the summer transfer window looming, could the answer to the Irishman’s problems lie in a 22 year old Englishman who was released from Southampton’s academy as a trainee?
Danny Ings was given the opportunity to rebuild his career with the Championship surprise package and Premier League new boys, AFC Bournemouth, where he netted 7 goals in 27 appearances to secure a move to Championship side, and current club, Burnley. It was Burnley’s promotion season of 2013-14 in which Ings truly showcased his credentials, firing 21 goals to secure his side a place in the top flight for the first time in 4 years. Burnley fought off interest from other clubs to maintain Ings’ services for their return to the big time, but despite the best efforts of the striker, who has so far seen a healthy return of 10 goals this campaign, Burnley were relegated back to the Championship after only one season in the top flight on May 9. This was despite a 1 nil victory away at fellow strugglers Hull, with Ings bagging the winner. Despite the heartache suffered by Ings’ side this season, the striker has obtained plenty of admirers, and with the player himself seeking a new challenge with the expiration of his contract in July, competition for his signature has been fierce. Despite former Manchester United manager and current Real Sociedad boss, David Moyes, coveting Ings’ signature, The Mirror reports that the striker has his heart set on a move to Anfield, and all signs suggest Ings will be a Liverpool player next season. For a nominal tribunal fee of roughly £6 million due to the player’s age, the money involved will suit risk-taker Rodgers, who will give the forward a chance to establish himself as one of England’s brightest young talents. Having represented his country at u21 level, a strong season at a club fighting for Champions League football may well see Ings become an England regular.
So what can Liverpool fans expect to see from the man that will potentially lead the line for them next season? At 5”11, Ings does not offer the physical presence that the likes of Rickie Lambert provide, and fans can expect Ings to be deployed as a centre forward in the mould of a poacher, taking the chances that Liverpool’s front line have failed to do so this season. Although doubts remain as to where Raheem Sterling will be playing his football next season, Liverpool boast attacking talents such as Phillipe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson who look to pull the strings from the middle and wide positions, with the pair creating 126 chances between them this season. The raw pace of wingers Sterling and emerging talent Jordon Ibe is also sure to create plenty of chances for Ings to get himself on the score sheet. Within an attack minded side which creates plenty of chances, Ings will be given the chance to shine in a Liverpool jersey. However, if Rodgers wishes to compete for the title and even the Champions League places once more, he must invest in a proven quality goal scorer, and although Ings has the potential to be the answer to Liverpool’s problems, Liverpool need a ready-made world beater to transform them into title contenders. With Champions League qualification impossible this season, and the ability to attract the world’s best disappearing, pressure would fall on Ings to deliver the goods from the offset, and if the transfer were to go through, the hopes and expectations of millions of Liverpool fans worldwide would fall upon the shoulders of the young Englishman.
Ings is not, and will never be a replacement for Luis Suarez, but the forward will be given an opportunity to prove his worth by the Liverpool manager, and his first season at Anfield may well prove to be the most defining of his career to date.