Daniel Ingredients looking handsome back in 2018, as he went on loan to Southampton from Liverpool.
Daniel Ingredients looking handsome back in 2018, as he went on loan to Southampton from Liverpool. | Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images

We all love Danny Ings, but is a return to Liverpool likely? I think not.

News broke today that Southampton striker Daniel Ings has turned down a new contract that would have seen him become the best-paid player in Saints history, with the player saying he hoped to move on and test himself at a higher level instead.

As his contract is set to expire next season, it’s likely that Saints will attempt to cash in on him this summer rather than let him leave on a free transfer — and Ings, who is currently 28, will likely be himself interested in a move sooner rather than later (particularly given his injury record).

Despite absences through injury in the 2020/21, Ings managed 13 goals in 33 appearances last season, a respectable tally given that Southampton generally struggled for form late on in the season.

Ings was much-loved by fans at Liverpool, and there have been rumors about his return to the Reds since reports of his failure to sign a contract extension emerged in January — and the fact that Ings has said that “Anfield on a Champions League night” is amongst his favorite occasions in football certainly helps the rumors.

In the past, Jürgen Klopp has praised Ings, who he unfortunately never got a chance to properly work with at Liverpool. The manager has described Ings as “footballer who has all the tools” who would be missed at Anfield.

Practically speaking, Liverpool are indeed a possible destination for a striker who is interested in Champions League football, though it’s unclear whether Ings would be happy as a fifth-choice option behind Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, and Diogo Jota.

While there might be available minutes for Ings next season given the African Cup of Nations this January combined with the limited minutes the likes of Divock Origi, among others, saw in 2020/21 (despite the schedule constraints).

Money may be an issue, however, as it’s unlikely that the club will be willing to pay £20-30 million for a 29-year-old with an injury history like the one Ings carries, even if he is a hard-working goal scorer who gets on with the dressing room.

Furthermore, given the fact that the club’s original deal with Southampton included a 20% signing on fee, it’s more likely that Liverpool will sit back and hope to benefit financially from the striker going elsewhere — though it is true that this 20% could, alternatively, be used to discount Southampton’s asking price if the smarter fellas doing the scouting decide Ings would be a smart signing.

You can see the argument on both sides here, and especially if Southampton were open for some sort of Origi-plus-cash trade deal (with money coming our way) you could really see it happening.

As for the salary comparison: according to Spotrac.com, Origi is currently on £60,000/week, while Ings is on £75,000/week under his current contract. If Ings is in it for the level of competition rather than the money, as he’s said, it’s possible he’d stay in a similar bracket to his present salary.

It does always come back to injuries, however: after the season we had in 2020/21, is it really likely that Michael Edwards and Co. will jump for a player with Ings’ injury history, knowing we might have to rely on him for January?

Only time will tell.