Danny Ings has been the surprise of the season in one of the surprise teams of the season. Burnley weren’t expected to be promoted from the Championship. But then predications mean so little in a league famed for its competitiveness.
Even fewer would have predicted 21-year-old Danny Ings to win Player of the Year. But the England under-21 international now appears to be a dead cert to be playing in the Premier League next season, regardless of how Burnley’s last eight games go. The only uncertainty that remains is where.
At 22, it’s hard to call Ings a late bloomer, but such has been has been the radical nature of his transformation that some sort of similar phrase is needed. A rapid bloomer perhaps? Some sort of fast-rising flower or flour? Crudities aside, the point to note is that the Ings of this season is a much-improved player on the kid that wore the claret and blue of last.
Three in 32: that’s how many goals Danny Ings scored for Burnley last year. Even with the caveats of youth and playing for a mid-table side, that’s a disappointing return for a forward. Ings was always ‘one for the future’, but it was clear he needed to start doing things in the present.
With potential seemingly being converted into quality overnight, the story of this season couldn’t be more different. Ings has scored 20 goals in 34 league games, and only a monumental collapse would now see Burnley miss out on promotion to the Premier League.
But this success has come at a cost. The joys of promotion will likely be tainted by the knowledge that Burnley will be unable to hold onto their star player in the summer. For Ings, it can only all seem like good news.
However, football is littered with players of promise whose careers were jeopardized by moving to the wrong club. With Tottenham and West Ham appearing to show the most interest, Ings has the choice between graft and glory. And rather predictably, it looks like the harder road may be best one to travel.
Tottenham are in need of goals and Sherwood is an open admirer of Ings. The young manager seems willing to put his trust in young players, and it’s easy to imagine Sherwood enjoying having a young Englishman leading his forward line.
However, while Ings has managed 25 goals in all competitions this season, the forward is a better operator at No.10 than he is No.9. And with Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Gylfi Sigurdsson already options in this position, there would appear to more competition at the club than would be advisable for a developing player.
Competition would still be an issue at West Ham, but not to the same degree. Kevin Nolan is the first choice 10 at the club and is enjoying another good season in the Premier League. But with the midfielder turning 32 in June, the amount of games that Nolan can manage is only going to diminish. And given Englishman’s penchant for a suspension, Ings would likely find more first-team opportunities than at White Hart Lane.
The idea of Carroll and Ings together would seem to offer another reason in favor of opting for Upton Park. Ings’ successes this season must in part be attributed to Burnley striking partner Sam Vokes. The pair have formed a classic ‘big-man’/’little-man’ combination that would bode well for a potential Ings and Carroll double act.
In life, as in football, the easy option is unfortunately rarely the right one. No one would begrudge Ings for choosing the glamour of Spurs, but smart option looks to lie to the east of White Hart Lane.