Strengths and Weaknesses of Liverpool Signing Danny Ings

Jack Lusby@jacklusby_Featured ColumnistJuly 10, 2015

Strengths and Weaknesses of Liverpool Signing Danny Ings

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    Danny Ings is one of a six-strong group to make the move to Liverpool already this summer, and although he is one of the more well-known figures of the Reds' new signings, his quality is still something of an enigma.

    Having played just one season of top-flight football, and that being with relegated Burnley, there are question marks over whether Ings can make the step up this season.

    So, what can Liverpool expect from Ings?

    Here the 22-year-old is assessed, with four strengths and four weaknesses.

Strength: Finishing

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    His England under-21s summer misadventure aside, Ings has proved himself to be an excellent finisher over the past two seasons with Burnley.

    He scored 32 goals in 75 league appearances after recovering from injury to become a regular in the 2013/14 Championship season, and his 11-goal tally in last season's Premier League is particularly impressive.

    Of those 11 goals, three were scored with his left foot, four with his right and four via his head.

    Capable of scoring from outside the penalty area as well as all around the box, Ings is a high-potential goalscorer.

Weakness: Consistency

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    Many of Ings' perceived weaknesses may be mitigated by his playing circumstances last season: Burnley were battling relegation throughout and were more often than not pegged back by higher-quality opposition.

    Therefore, it may come as no surprise that the striker struggled to find consistency throughout 2014/15.

    Returning from a three-game layoff with a hamstring injury, Ings scored nine goals and made four assists in 18 Premier League games—a respectable tally for any striker in the top flight—but then his contribution nose-dived.

    He went 10 league games without registering a goal or assist, before rounding off the season with two goals in the last three games.

    Was he struggling due to an overall team issue, or does Ings just lack consistency in his game?

Strength: Dribbling

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    Ings was Burnley's key player last term, and while much of Sean Dyche's tactical outlook was based on hard work and sheer endeavour, the 22-year-old was employed to provide an added spark in attack.

    He did so with the aid of a confident dribbling ability.

    In 2014/15, Ings averaged 1.6 successful dribbles per 90 minutes in the Premier League, with only three Liverpool players—Philippe Coutinho, Jordon Ibe and Raheem Sterling—making more per 90.

Weakness: Possession Play

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    Ings proved himself to be an impressive creative player throughout 2014/15, but his overall possession play was sloppy, representing a major weakness in his game

    The 22-year-old averaged just 20.6 passes made per 90 minutes in the league—the fourth least of any Burnley player, and less than goalkeeper Tom Heaton (26.3).

    Furthermore, he completed just 70.7 percent of his passes on average.

    This is in line with Burnley's beleaguered, possession-starved position in the Premier League last season, with Dyche's side completing just 70 percent of their passes overall compared to Liverpool's 83 percent team average.

    Only three Liverpool outfield players had lower pass-completion numbers on average, with Mario Balotelli (69.7 percent), Rickie Lambert (68.1 percent) and Jose Enrique (65.7 percent) falling below the 70.7-percent mark.

    To make a stark comparison, Raheem Sterling, a similar player to Ings in terms of age and loose playing style, completed 81 percent of his passes.

Strength: Movement

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    While on the ball he is able to dazzle with his dribbling ability, one of Ings' main attributes in terms of goalscoring is his fine off-the-ball movement.

    Far from being a purely off-the-shoulder striking option, Ings' movement encapsulates the area all around the penalty box, as Liverpool legend Ian Rush attested in June, in conversation with talkSPORT on Drivetime: "What I like about Ings is his understanding inside the box. His movement is very good. He has quality with both feet and I think he’s got more in his locker."

    His tendency to drop deep and contribute to buildup play shows Ings has "more in his locker" than pure penalty-area poaching.

    Only three of his 37 touches of the ball in Burnley's final-day victory over Aston Villa came in the box, with 15 coming inside his own half.

Weakness: Ball Control

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    Brendan Rodgers' style of play is built around comfortable, neat possession football, with the manager expecting all of his players to be technically adept and happy to receive the ball in dangerous situations and play themselves out of trouble.

    That is one of the reasons why he so favours midfielder Joe Allen.

    Therefore, it is unfortunate Ings showcased some of the worst ball control of any player in the Premier League last season.

    The 22-year-old averaged 2.5 unsuccessful touches per 90 minutes, which ranks him in the 30 worst in the league of players to make 10 or more appearances—on par with Liverpool's stylistically jarring Lambert.

Strength: Defensive Contribution

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    Ings' aforementioned omnipresence not only indicates his great movement, but also his contribution in terms of defensive work.

    Another reason why Ings could be found inside his own half, with 15 out of 37 touches in a game in which he scored the winner to down Aston Villa 1-0, is that the striker is constantly harrying and closing down opposition defenders, as well as supporting his team-mates when under attack.

    In that Villa win, for example, Ings made three tackles, the joint-highest of any player on the day.

    Over the season, he averaged 0.8 tackles per 90 league minutes, which is more than all but Mario Balotelli (1.2) from Rodgers' centre-forward options last term.

    His pressing game will have endeared him to Rodgers throughout 2014/15.

Weakness: Aerial Ability

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    While Ings is capable of finding the back of the net with a well-timed header, his overall aerial ability is poor, arguably owing to his stature at 5'10".

    He averaged just 1.1 aerial duels won per 90 minutes when playing as a striker in the Premier League last term, with only five others to make 10 or more appearances—Balotelli, Ayoze Perez, Saido Berahino, Sergio Aguero and Jermain Defoe—averaging less.

    This is not necessarily a weakness that will worry Rodgers, however, with the Reds favouring a progressive short-passing buildup in attack.

    Statistics via WhoScored.com, Squawka.com and Transfermarkt.co.uk.

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