It was hoped that £32.5 million summer signing Christian Benteke would fire Liverpool into a top-four finish but for one reason or another that has not happened.
As Leicester City have showed the folly in big clubs paying big money and big wages for average players, some Liverpool fans are probably wishing they could turn back time and buy Jamie Vardy instead.
Well here’s the good news. Liverpool bought Danny Ings, and Ings has the potential to become as good as Vardy is this season.
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Let’s examine the evidence.
Vardy played with Leicester for two years in the Championship at the same time that Ings was playing for Burnley. Both teams got promoted to the Premier League in 2014/15, and both sides struggled to stay up.
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Burnley were relegated but Leicester stayed up with a late surge. The rest, as they say, is history.
A comparison of the two centre-forwards over two seasons in the Championship, and two seasons in the Premier League shows striking similarities.
Season League Goals Goals
2012/13 Championship 4 3
2013/14 Championship 16 21
2014/15 Premier League 5 11
2015/16 Premier League 19 2
Danny Ings outscored Jamie Vardy in the Championship, winning the 2013–14 Championship Player of the Year, and attracting the attention of then-Manchester United manager David Moyes and England boss Roy Hodgson.
Liverpool obtained Ings without a transfer fee in the summer of 2015 with his manager at the time Brendan Rodgers saying: “He wants to get goals and I think over the next few years he’s going to develop into a top-class striker.”
Indeed, Ings hangs on the shoulder of the last defender and evokes memories of Liverpool’s great goal-scoring heroes of the past.
Reds legend John Aldridge said after the Norwich game this season: “He showed a wonderful attitude which was both refreshing and infectious. He came on at half-time and brought the crowd to life and lifted the players around him, too.
“And he’s got quality too. His movement was excellent, he took his goal very well and did everything that could have been asked of him.”
Although past performances offer no guarantees of future form, there is no reason to think that Ings could not have matched the improvement shown by Vardy in both their second seasons at the top level.
Their head-to-head record speaks for itself. At the start of the 2015/16, Ings’ performances impressed. He has a similar trait as Vardy in his willingness to chase everything down and not forgetting he is still five years younger.
This season has been cut short by the rupturing of his anterior cruciate ligament during his first training session under Jurgen Klopp and just two days after coming on as a substitute to make his full England debut. However the recovery is on track and he should soon be ready and raring to go, at which point we will be able to make a much clearer prediction at just how good he can become.
With Divock Origi currently eclipsing his Belgian compatriot and Roberto Firmino able to play as a ‘false nine’ Jurgen Klopp will soon be spoilt for choice up front.
Unlike Christian Benteke, Ings will have the benefit of not wearing a huge price tag as a millstone around his neck and can play with the freedom from expectation that the whole Leicester team, and Vardy in particular, have been playing with all this season.
The PFCC tribunal to determine a transfer is yet to meet and a fee has not been set. However it is likely to be a great deal more than the £1 million that Leicester paid non-League Fleetwood for Vardy.
If Ings plays next season for Liverpool like Vardy has played this season for Leicester, then the Kop faithful are in for a treat, but more importantly for Liverpool, the infamous transfer committee may be able to claim a long-awaited success story.