Good news has been hard to come by for Jurgen Klopp since taking the reigns at Anfield a few months back. On the plus side, Liverpool have managed to reach the League Cup Final, but inconsistent form, fixture congestion and injuries to many squad members have been a cause of concern for the German boss.
High profile blows for big-name players such as Martin Skrtel, Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho have scuppered the ex-Dortmund boss’ chances of consistent form and selection. In fact it only took a matter of days in the job for the injury-bug to strike Klopp’s newly acquired squad, with promising young left-back Joe Gomez going down with a torn ACL, followed closely by striker Danny Ings with the same unfortunate injury.
It was a cruel blow for the new Liverpool boss, particularly before even getting to see the players in action. But brighter news emerged this week, former Burnley striker Ings posting an inspirational video of his comeback to training. Despite being ahead of schedule, Ings’ return will probably come too late for him to feature again this campaign, but will nevertheless provide Klopp with a welcome tonic moving forward.
Christian Benteke’s poor form has been well documented this season, his woes in-front of goal a source of frustration for both Klopp and the Liverpool supporters, particularly given his £32.5m price tag. So, it seems unlikely the Belgian hit-man will still be at Anfield by the time next season starts, with the side not playing to his strengths, but likewise the player not playing to the team’s strengths.
With fellow young Belgian Divock Origi still developing and Daniel Sturridge unable to avoid injury for more than a few weeks at best, this opens the door for Ings to make his mark on this Liverpool side. Klopp is likely to have his own ideas on players to bring in, but you feel there are other areas of the squad that need far more work than the attacking options so the splashing of big money on a striker may not be as obvious as first thought.
Ings started the season well in fact, scoring twice in just five games under Brendan Rodgers and impressing far more than the, at the time, first choice striker, Benteke. Given a good run of games, the marksman could easily surpass 10 goals a season in this Liverpool side and his determination and effort in his rehabilitation will not have gone unnoticed by Klopp.
Benteke was bought to the club with an eye towards becoming a focal-point for the attack, holding up the ball and bringing others – whether it be Sturridge, Coutinho or midfield runners – into play. For whatever reason this has not worked out, but Ings also possesses many of those traits that Brendan Rodgers, who bought him to the club, was looking for.
His one full season in the Premier League was ultimately a disappointing one as Burnley were relegated, but from a personal point of view the former England U-21 hit-man impressed. Scoring 11 goals is no mean feat against some of the country’s top defences, but furthermore Ings displayed a fight and tenacity consistent with Sean Dyche’s philosophy for his Clarets side. Hard working and a good team-player, Ings’ ‘lead from the front’ mentality is in stark contrast to the lazy, almost disinterested look about Benteke’s game.
Whilst not the physical speciman of his Belgian team-mate, Ings nevertheless possesses good speed and strength and has a poacher’s instinct when inside the box. With great movement, positioning, excellent finishing and an uncanny knack of knowing where the goal is, he’s a long way from being at the same standard but his play is not dissimilar to that of Klopp’s former front-man at Borussia Dortmund, Robert Lewandowski.
This summer will be a key one at Anfield. Given the chance to bring in his own players, and with a full pre-season to work with, Klopp is likely to be judged on what he can achieve with his own side, in his own style. It remains to be seen how this will work out, but the charismatic German boss could do a lot worse than consider Danny Ings as one of his key first-team/squad members and it would certainly be good to see a young, talented English striker given a chance at one of the top clubs in the country.