If anyone deserved more of a chance to prove themselves at Liverpool, it was Danny Ings.
Desperately unlucky with injuries, the striker was never really afforded an opportunity to show what he was capable of in a red shirt.
Jurgen Klopp’s dreams of working with the forward were dashed and fans were denied celebrating his exploits in front of goal when his loan move to Southampton was approved in 2018, before it came permanent in a £20m-deal the following year.
Unfortunately, though, the manager knew he had little choice.
Fortune abandoned Ings almost as soon as Klopp arrived on Merseyside, at just 23 he had enjoyed a bright start to life at Anfield under Brendan Rodgers but just one week after the Northern Irish manager was replaced, the frontman ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments and was forced to sit on the sidelines for an extended spell.
More knee surgery was required in October the following year and by the time Ings had battled back to full fitness, Liverpool were a very different unit with the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah all well-established as a world-class attacking triumvirate while Daniel Sturridge remained in reserve.
There wasn’t really room for anyone else in the Reds front line when Ings left in the summer of 2018, even though Sturridge would depart on loan to West Bromwich Albion midway through the following season, and so he headed for the south coast looking to reignite his career and make up for lost time.
And, in fairness to the talisman, that is exactly what he did.
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Ings scored eight goals in 25 appearances during his first season at St Mary’s Stadium and then last term he sparked into life, netting 22 times in the Premier League alone last term and finishing just one goal away from Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy – who won the golden boot.
Impressively during the last campaign, Ings broke the deadlock by scoring the first goal in a game more than any other player and scored the second most away goals in the top flight too.
Indeed, since Ralph Hasenhuttl took charge of Southampton in December 2018, Ings has been directly involved in 38 goals in the Premier League (31 goals and seven assists); 16 more than the player with the next most at the club in this period (22 – James Ward-Prowse).
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This season, Ings has scored six goals – one more than Diogo Jota and two more than Mane.
Of course, it must be noted that Ings offers more to Southampton than he realistically could have done for Liverpool.
Game time and getting in ahead of the Reds’ world-class attack would have been an issue but clearly, his ability in front of goal is a force to be reckoned with and Klopp would have found him a real asset but it is not the manager’s way to hold a player beyond their will and Ings left with the best wishes of everyone at the club.
The greatest shame really is that the England international was injured during Klopp’s formative years at Anfield, his performances under Hasenhuttl in the last two seasons show he could have offered Liverpool just what they needed – at least before the likes of Mane, Salah and Firmino were drawn together.