Comment: Danny Ings is an inspired signing for Liverpool - he can be better than Harry Kane
Published 08/06/2015 | 13:37
The England under-21 striker Danny Ings might not be as celebrated as his Tottenham counterpart, but he has the ability and character to thrive at Anfield
Having witnessed Luis Suarez scoring the crucial goal in Barcelona’s Champions League final triumph against Juventus at the weekend, Liverpool supporters are more likely to be mourning the loss of a talisman this morning than celebrating the arrival of Ings at Anfield.
One is a £75m superstar, the player who almost ended Liverpool’s 24-year wait for a league title last year; the other is an out-of-contract England under-21 forward who failed to score the goals to keep Burnley in the Premier League.
In such black and white terms, it is easy to suggest that Liverpool’s move for Ings offers further proof of the club’s inability attract and keep the best players -- Raheem Sterling, who was booed throughout England’s goalless draw with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Sunday is another example of a player who believe Liverpool can only take him so far.
But if you cut through the cynicism and judge the Ings signing on its merits, the reality is that Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers have made a smart move for a player whose qualities are likely to blossom at Anfield rather than drag the club down.
Many good judges regard Ings as a certainty to play for England at senior level, some would even suggest that the 22-year-old is the best prospect of an emerging crop with also includes Harry Kane and Saido Berahino.
The comparison with Berahino is a loose one, merely based on the two forwards developing with the under-21s at the same time: they are very different players.
That is less the case with Ings versus Kane. They are two classic centre-forwards who have come to the end of their first full season in the Premier League with their reputations enhanced, even if it is only Kane seeing his name up in lights.
The big positive for Liverpool, however, is that Ings will retain the surprise element next season, having largely gone under the radar with Burnley.
And if he maintains the progress he has shown at Turf Moor over the past 12 months, Ings can use Anfield as the stage to surpass Kane and become the more celebrated of the two.
Kane enjoyed a magnificent campaign at Tottenham last season, scoring 31 goals in 51 appearances for Mauricio Pochettino’s team, as well one on his England debut against Lithuania in March.
The 21-year-old has a clear eye for goal, physical presence and aerial prowess, but as the season drew to a close, the goals began to dry up - he scored just twice in two months after his England debut -- with opponents learning how to shackle him.
Ings scored 11 goals in 37 appearances for Burnley, a return completely overshadowed by Kane, but given he was playing for a team which found chances and goals incredibly hard to come by, such a contribution highlights his ability to make and take opportunities.
The qualities which mark Ings out are his movement, pace, ability to hold the ball up as a link-man and two strong feet.
He is an all-round centre-forward and, while Kane’s aerial ability is better, Ings appears to possess more components for success at the top level than his Tottenham counterpart.
How he handles the move to Liverpool will define his input on the pitch, however. With Daniel Sturridge due to miss the start of the season through injury and manager Rodgers showing little or no faith in Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert - both of whom may well be sold - Ings is likely to start the season in the team.
He could partner Divock Origi, the 20-year-old Belgian who will arrive from Lille this summer, but Ings’s greater Premier League experience is likely to give him the edge as Rodgers’s first option.
For many who have not seen Ings at close hand, eyes will be rolled at Liverpool’s move for him.
But he is a player who can quickly become the answer to Liverpool’s goalscoring problems and while he will never be another Suarez, he will be better than many anticipate.