Southampton striker Danny Ings has to be patient this summer. He is for another shot with an elite Premier League side, but ultimately knows it is out of his control. Into the final year of his current deal, Ings should be hot property this summer but that simply isn’t the case. Missing training may work for Harry Kane but Ings knows there is little to gain from kicking up a fuss with nothing lined up. Unfortunately, for him, the big clubs are chasing bigger names.
Kane is at the top of Manchester City’s wishlist, while Chelsea have moved on from Erling Haaland to former striker Romelu Lukaku. Arsenal are exploring a deal for Inter striker Lautaro Martínez and Tottenham like the look of Fiorentina youngster Dusan Vlahovic. Manchester United are not interested in a new striker this summer and Ings has already had his time at Liverpool. However, Ings should be quietly optimistic heading into the last month of the window.
None of these deals are straightforward. Far from it. The fact that Kane is actively trying to force a move away from Tottenham is a boost for City but they still need to convince Daniel Levy to entertain a transfer. Meanwhile, Inter have described Lukaku as “untouchable” this summer and the Belgium international has already declared he is happy in Milan. Arsenal will need a good sales proposal to drive down Inter’s valuation of Martínez and Fiorentina are not going to let Vlahovic leave Tottenham on the cheap either.
In truth, transfers for the best players are rarely straightforward. Kane finished last season as the top scorer (23) and top assister (14) in the Premier League. Haaland, 21, has scored 40 goals in 43 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund. And Lukaku just had his best ever season in front of goal, with 35 goal involvements in 36 Serie A appearances. There is a reason their clubs don’t want to sell: they are close to irreplaceable.
These transfers will likely go down to the wire and even then there is no guarantee they will happen. It will take £150m to sign Kane from Tottenham; Borussia Dortmund have made it clear they won’t listen to any offers for Haaland less than £170m; and Inter have rejected three bids from Chelsea for Lukaku, with the latest topping £85m. In a summer where clubs are strapped for cash, it makes the reluctance to sign Ings, who is available for a cut-price fee, even more curious.
Only Kane, Mo Salah (both 41) and Jamie Vardy (38) have scored more goals than Ings (34) across the last two Premier League campaigns. The 29-year-old has scored almost twice as many goals as Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (18) in that time and done so from seven fewer appearances. Injuries were a problem for Ings in the past, but he has only missed 11 leagues games across the last two seasons.
Chelsea and City will have to re-assess their expectations if they fail to land Lukaku or Kane, and Ings is not a poor alternative. He has the second best conversion rate in the Premier League of the 97 players who have taken at least 50 shots (22.7%). Vardy is a ruthless finisher but he only ranks third. If playing at Chelsea or City, he would only score more. His time at Liverpool probably came too soon in his career, and he wasn’t helped by injuries, but it shouldn’t define him when being considered by richer clubs.
City are close to signing Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for £100m but they simply cannot go through this window without bringing in a new striker after letting Sergio Agüero go to Barcelona earlier in the summer. Meanwhile, Chelsea’s top scorer in the Premier League last season was Jorginho, whose seven goals were all penalties. Timo Werner’s woes did not improve over the summer with Germany, while Chelsea have sold Olivier Giroud to Milan and are keen to offload Tammy Abraham.
Signing Ings does not have to end their pursuit for another striker. Everyone knows Haaland has a release clause of just £68m next summer; Kylian Mbappé will be a free agent; and Kane will have worked another year off his Tottenham contract. If those sorts of transfers fail to materialise in this window, it would be a massive surprise, and big mistake, if Ings does not become a serious option.