When a player currently at a lower-ranked Premier League side has a big season, it almost always leads to interest from the big clubs.
The same pattern has followed this year as Southampton striker Danny Ings has hit 21 league goals in his 37 games so far this season, putting him behind only Jamie Vardy in the race for the golden boot.
With the Saints avoiding relegation comfortably in the end, the club are looking forward to next season already but they will surely have no idea just yet of whether they should be planning for live with or without Ings.
While there hasn’t been any reported interest, you’d assume clubs such as Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton will all be keeping a close eye on him. The former Burnley striker could also attract interest from the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United as they look to strengthen their attacking options. None of them would be a good idea for his career though.
With Ings, Southampton have the perfect striker for their system. His goal tally is a reflection of that but it is also the way he brings those around him into play too. The form of Nathan Redmond has greatly improved as Ings’ influence grew, while James Ward-Prowse has seen his great form make him captain at the club.
Ings, who turns 28 next week, is at the perfect club for his career too. He’s the undisputed first choice striker, is thriving in the system, he’s staying fit and is surrounded by enough good players that this season of battling relegation can comfortably be looked at as a blip. The manager has also just signed a new long-term deal, which means there is stability.
Had Euro 2020 been this summer, it would be nigh on impossible for Gareth Southgate to be leaving him at home. However, the tournament isn’t this summer. That means for Ings to be in the squad next year, he needs to maintain this form. He will have added competition, with the fitness of Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane not an issue anymore and players like Mason Greenwood, Bukayo Saka, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Phil Foden all likely to be even more involved in the first-team at their clubs next year. He needs to have another flawless season like this if he is to break into that squad.
To give himself the best chance of doing so, he should look to make the best conditions for himself. While he could move to a bigger club, earn more money and have more chance at trophies/European football, he is less likely to be this effective. All the top clubs currently have options that are better than Ings and/or systems that aren’t tailor made for him. He’d go in as back-up, as he used to do at Liverpool or it would likely be a sideways move anyway.
If he leaves, he will need to adjust to new teammates, coaches and a new way of playing. At St Mary’s, he is the man and it’s unlikely to be changing any time soon.