Martin King expertly explains why superstars like Robert Lewandowski or Gonzalo Higuaín are not necessary for Liverpool to succeed next season.
On the final day of last season, Liverpool fans witnessed a moment they had never thought they’d witness until next season. It was the moment that Danny Ings ran onto the pitch in the famous red shirt for the first time since a ligament injury kept him out for seven long months.
As soon as the striker came on as a second half substitute against West Bromwich Albion, dozens of travelling Reds fans at the Hawthorns exploded with cheers and applause whilst millions across the world were united on social media to welcome the number 28 back into action. It was at that moment that I realized how much Ings has become a part of the family. For it wasn’t just a sympathetic warm-welcome by the fans but a show of excitement and belief that a player who began his Liverpool career with plenty of promise could continue it with fulfillment – this time under the guidance of Jürgen Klopp.
Ings joined the club from Burnley last year after an impressive Premier League debut campaign which saw him score 11 goals in 35 appearances for Sean Dyche’s men. Just like a lot of other signings made by ex-manager Brendan Rodgers, the signing of the Englishman was rather contentious and divided opinion among fans and experts. However, when given his chance, the 23-year-old proved to be a bargain as he was one of the players who stood out in what was a disappointing start to the season for the Reds, managing three goals before his subsequent long-term injury lay-off.
Still, it wasn’t only the goals that endeared him to the Anfield faithful but his exceptional work-rate. For a short while, Ings was above a £32.5 million striker on the pecking order thanks to his willingness to combine both attacking and defensive responsibilities – a quality that has earned several substituted players that special standing ovation only Anfield can produce.
Fast-forward to next season and that quality, in particular, may be enough to earn him a place in some of Klopp’s biggest plans. The boss not only loves a player who can go through brick walls for the red shirt, his ‘gegenpressing’ style of football demands it. He already has men who can carry out this philosophy in strikers Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana (who is even doing it for England at the Euros) and in ‘Ingsy’, as he is affectionately called, the German may have another key player to impose this strategy.
One thing we know for sure is that the 49-year-old already likes the striker. Klopp said of Ings after his return from injury in April,
“He’s a great guy. I have had half an hour with him on the pitch – it was so unlucky I can’t believe. Since then I know much more about him as a person than as a professional football player.
“So if he is as good as a player as he is as a person, we can really look forward to seeing him on the pitch.”
Football fans can be so misguided by stories in the media unrealistically linking their club with a top class striker, to the point of completely forgetting the quality players within their own ranks. With names such as Robert Lewandowski or Gonzalo Higuaín being constantly linked with moves to Anfield, Ings may very well be a victim of this kind of forgetfulness by Liverpool fans.
However, as pre-season approaches, the Englishman will surely go about his business quietly before proving to Reds fans that he can be just as good as the former was under the leadership of Klopp.