You’d have to be a cartoonish type of evil not to feel sympathetic for the plight of Danny Ings. Unless you’re the human incarnation of Mr Burns, you will look at the Liverpool striker with sorrowful eyes.
Because Ings’ is an unfortunate tale, one which serves as a sobering reminder of how injuries can ravage a footballer’s time at the top. Ings, regrettably, falls into this category. Having come through the ranks at Bournemouth, the striker scored 26 goals in the 2014/15 season to lift Burnley to Premier League promotion.
His first season in the top flight was impressive, too, managing 11 goals in 35 appearances and, while he was unable to save the Clarets from relegation, he had done enough to earn a dream move to Liverpool.
However, two serious injuries have restricted him to just a handful of appearances during Jürgen Klopp’s two-year reign and there doesn’t look to be a place for him at Anfield.
It was quite heartening, then, to read that Newcastle United are interested in offering Ings a Premier League lifeline. Last month The Chronicle claimed Rafael Benítez is keen on bringing the 25-year-old in on a loan deal until the end of the season to bolster his attacking options. That’s been repeated by the Daily Star, who says the striker is wanted alongside Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw.
But is he the answer to the Magpies’ scoring problems? We take a look.
Ings Deserves Another Chance
Although Ings was not a Klopp signing, the German coach has never suggested that he doesn’t figure in his plans. But he has hinted that forcing his way back into the reckoning at Anfield will be a difficult task.
“He’s completely normal in training, that’s the best news,” said Klopp back in August. “He’s on a very good way, the knee is perfect that’s the most important thing of course.
“It makes no sense [to rush him back]. In our situation, we have four other strikers.”
That last sentence reveals the stiff competition for places at Anfield – a competition Ings is unlikely to win. Liverpool have Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge and Dominic Solanke as centre-forwards, while Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané can also comfortably operate through the middle if needed.
With that in mind, a loan spell at a different Premier League club presents Ings with the promising offer of getting more top-flight minutes under his belt, which is exactly what he needs after such a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The one-time England international has endured a long and sometimes tortured road to recovery and, now that he has regained full fitness, he deserves the chance to remind everyone why Liverpool were determined to beat Tottenham Hotspur to his signature in the first place.
Is He What Newcastle Need?
Of course, given the severity of his injuries, the inevitable caveat attached to Ings’ next chapter is a doubt over how long he can maintain his fitness. With just 19 goals in 20 games, Newcastle are in serious need of inspiration up front and, with his willingness to run behind defenders, Ings would offer a different dynamic in attack to Joselu.
The Spaniard, signed from Stoke City in the summer, has only scored three goals in 15 appearances this season and it’s become abundantly clear that, while he has his qualities, he is not the 20-goals-a-season striker the supporters longed for in the summer.
Benítez has also run out of patience with Aleksandar Mitrović and is willing to listen to offers for the Serbia international in January. The former Liverpool boss has been in charge at St James’ Park for the better part of two years now and, having had sufficient time with which to assess the tempestuous 23-year-old, it’s difficult to challenge his judgement.
The same goes for Dwight Gayle, who has not offered enough evidence to suggest that he can replicate his prolific Championship form at a higher level. The 27-year-old managed 23 goals last season but has scored just three times this term and has been linked with a move back down to the second tier.
Ings is a gamble, yes, but he is a proven finisher at this level. Between January and February 2015, Ings was one of the hottest strikers in the league, scoring five times in six games, form which factored into him receiving a call-up to the England team by Roy Hodgson in October 2015 for Euro 2016 qualifiers against Estonia and Lithuania.
Ings has been continuing his hard work at Liverpool’s Melwood training facility and may ask Klopp for the chance of going out on loan to get himself reacquainted with the Premier League – he has made just one appearance in the league, for eight minutes against Everton at the weekend off the bench.
While he may not have been playing for the senior team, he’s been back and scoring for the under-23s and that shows real encouragement, regardless of the age group and, considering that Newcastle are exploring the option of taking him on loan until the end of the season, he represents a low-risk, low-cost option for Benítez.
Ings is still only 25 and, while regular starting football under Klopp may be beyond him this season, there is little reason to suggest he can’t rebuild his Premier League career elsewhere.