A lot of people expected Southampton’s England striker Danny Ings to move to another club this summer, but they didn’t expect him to go to Aston Villa. It’s so rare in modern football that a transfer happens without days or weeks of speculation and build-up, but the Villains caught everybody sleeping. Seemingly out of nowhere, they confirmed on August 4th that they’d secured the signature of Ings on a three-year contract. Just like that, Villa’s prospects of a successful season next time around improved immeasurably.
Ings had made no secret of the fact that he wanted to leave St Mary’s Stadium. While he’s grateful to Southampton for giving him the chance to rebuild his career after an injury-hit spell with Liverpool, he felt he was capable of playing at a higher level. His goalscoring form backed his opinion, and he was thought to be on the “wanted” list for several clubs this summer. There were even reports that giants like Manchester City and Chelsea might be interested in picking him up on a cut-price deal, with a return to Liverpool also proposed by some tabloids. With his contract running out and the player unsettled, he’d make a fine acquisition for somebody. The surprise isn’t the transfer; it’s the fact that Villa got there ahead of everybody else.
Some Southampton fans might feel like this is a move sideways rather than a step up. They might have a point. Aston Villa is no more likely to challenge for the league title next season than Southampton are. It’s not inconceivable to think that they might be able to win the EFL Cup or the FA Cup with a fair wind behind them, but they wouldn’t be considered among the favourites for either competition. It’s possible that both clubs might even end up fighting against relegation next term, although they’d be disappointed if they were. Historically, though, Villa is the bigger of the two clubs. They’ve been European champions in the past and have won trophies far more recently than the Saints have. Southampton fans might feel betrayed, but Villa is the more prestigious club to play for in the eyes of most players and fans.
Ings is Villa’s fourth signing of the season, following Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia, and Ashley Young. Although the fee Villa paid Southampton for the 29-year-old striker is undisclosed, sources say that it’s in the region of £25m upfront with an additional £5m in add-ons if certain conditions are met. That’s no small price to pay for a club of Villa’s stature – especially when Buendia didn’t arrive cheaply either. Unfortunately for Villa fans, the fact that their club is suddenly willing to spend so much money is probably a sign that Manchester City’s move for Jack Grealish is going through. The latest news on that transfer as of the time of writing is that the England midfielder has arrived in Manchester for a medical. It’s highly likely that the transfer will have been completed by the time you read this. The fee that City and Villa have agreed for Grealish is £100m, which is more than enough to cover Villa’s summer spending free. There should even be enough left over for another acquisition or two.
For Ings, who has spoken to the press only once since signing his new contract, the move is about challenging himself. He believes Villa is a club that ought to qualify for Europe regularly and says he was won over by the ambition of manager Dean Smith and the club’s owners. He also feels that he can link up well with Ollie Watkins – a player Ings will already know a little of after linking up with him on England duty. Watkins and Ings – presuming they can both stay fit – is theoretically the strongest strike partnership that Aston Villa has had in the Premier League since the days of Dean Saunders and Dalian Atkinson. They should help to bring the good times back to Villa Park if – and this is a big if – the club can somehow fill the gaping void left by the departure of Grealish. The talented midfielder was more than just the club’s captain; he was also their talisman.
The goal-to-game ratio that Ings achieved at Southampton is special because he did it as a club that usually struggles to score goals. If he can meet or exceed twenty goals per season at Southampton, he should be able to do better than that with better quality players behind him. That’s why this might be the best deal of the summer so far. If Villa gets Ings firing, he could score the goals that turn losses into draws and draws into wins. That might give bigger clubs reasons to regret not acting when they had the chance. One can only imagine how many times an in-form Ings might hit the back of the net if he had players like Kevin de Bruyne and (ironically) Jack Grealish feeding the ball to him at Manchester City.
Why, then, did bigger clubs not come in for him? Maybe it’s because Danny Ings isn’t as glamorous a signing as Jaden Sancho or Romelu Lukaku. Maybe there are still suspicions about his fitness. The fact that Ings has missed so much time to injuries can’t be ignored, but he seems to be over his problems now. It’s a wonder that Liverpool didn’t take a gamble on him. They need another goalscorer, and since they’re the only club in the English Premier League that has its own online slots game, you’d have thought that gambling was in their nature. On the other hand, maybe online slots represent how clubs look at Ings. You put money into them, but you can never be sure whether they’re going to provide you with anything in return or not. The form he’s displayed in the past two seasons suggests that he’s less of a gamble than anything you might find at OnlineSlotsUK.com, but important people at England’s biggest clubs must disagree. Ings will hope to prove that their loss is Aston Villa’s gain.
Bigger names than Danny Ings will join English Premier League clubs before the transfer window closes. Whether any of them achieve more than he will in the next nine months is something we’ll have to wait and see. If he’s as good for Villa as he has been for Southampton, they’ll have to go a long way to eclipse him.