Attacking INGStincts: Could Danny Ings be a surprise solution to Chelsea’s goalscoring problems?

As is often the case at Chelsea, we have issues in the striker position. Danny Ings could potentially be the unexpected solution for the Blues.

We spent big on Timo Werner last summer but as the weeks and months went on, it became clear that despite being a very useful player, he might not be the reliable source of goals we need. In addition, Giroud and Abraham both appear to be on their way out of Chelsea after falling out of favour with Thomas Tuchel.

This leaves immense pressure on young Kai Havertz to be the talisman for Chelsea next season and while I have confidence in his ability, he is inexperienced up front and still finding his best position.

All this considered, it’s no surprise that Chelsea seems to be turning to market. Romelu Lukaku and Erling Haaland have both been mentioned by reliable sources as Chelsea’s top targets this summer but either deal would be complicated. Erling Haaland’s price tag has put many off signing him and Dortmund’s qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League making things even more difficult. On the other hand, Romelu Lukaku seems settled at Inter Milan, and any move to temp it away would surely be a hard sell.

Danny Ings scores past Kepa Arrizabalaga at Stamford Bridge in October 2020.
Danny Ings could be a good solution for Chelsea. Image credit: Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images.

At this point, I think it’s worth thinking about alternative targets and one player I’ve been a huge fan of for a couple of seasons now is Danny Ings. The 28-year-old Englishman has just 12 months left on his contract and could be available for a rumoured £20 to £30 Million. I know this could be a controversial one, especially considering some of the names previously mentioned, so let’s get into why I think he could be the man to solve Chelsea’s striker crisis.

Invest in Kai Havertz

A big reason I like Danny Ings is he allows for a change in strategy. We put our faith in Kai Havertz to become our main man at striker, while supplementing him with a proven goalscorer in Danny Ings who can take some of the weight off his shoulders. There would be no need to spend massive money on a marquee striker target.

As we saw during the last few months of Frank Lampard’s time in charge, Kai Havertz isn’t a midfield player. He also doesn’t look at his best on the wing and isn’t really the man you want feeding runners in a more reserved role.

In my opinion, he is best playing on the last line of defence and seems to thrive when working as a striker in Thomas Tuchel’s system. This makes sense considering his elite composure, deceptive pace, and ability to bring others into play. We all like the idea of getting in a world class striker for £100 million plus but it just might be that we have the solution right here.

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If we sign a top striker for big money, then does that not block Kai Havertz from playing in his best position? Yes, he has the talent to be useful anywhere in attack but when you consider the money and time the club put into bringing him here, we should surely give him the ideal conditions to succeed.

Ings’ addition to the squad could fix several issues for us, while being an experienced mentor-figure for Havertz and a man to step in when needed.

What you want from a striker


Danny Ings is really good, both in and out of possession. You only have to look at the numbers. To start with, he’s a really consistent goal scorer. Over the past three seasons at Southampton, he’s scored 41 goals and created 10 assists in 91 games. In 2019-20 that worked out at an exceptional 0.71 goals per 90 minutes. The number dropped to 0.5 last season but even that is still very high and is in the 84th percentile for PL forwards. He is also capable of scoring with both feet and with the head, another useful ability when trying to break down stubborn teams.

To score this many goals, playing for a team like Southampton is simply incredible and cannot be understated. Even when Southampton dropped off and finished in 15th place this season, he still managed to chip in with 12 goals and drag them to safety. When playing in a better team that creates far more chances, he would surely have an even better output.

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On top of the excellent goalscoring, he’s also quite creative. His short and long passing is average, but he is progressive with it. He’s good at moving the ball into the penalty area/final third and key stats of 0.91 key passes (53rd percentile) per 90, 0.17 assists (68th percentile) and 2.03 progressive passes (72nd percentile) are all quite good reading.

It’s perhaps an area that could be improved upon, but I think it’s important to consider the quality of the team he’s playing for and the type of possession he is usually experiencing.

Defensively sound

As well as being clinical up front, Ings is one of the best forwards defensively in the league. He works hard off the ball and is good at pressing opposition defences. The importance of this can’t be understated, especially in Thomas Tuchel’s system which prioritises defending as a team and pressing diligently. He ranked in the top 25% for pressures by forwards in the Premier League last season and averages just over 17 per game, as well as having high per 90 numbers in tackles, interceptions, blocks and clearances:

  • Tackles: 1.24 (90th percentile)
  • Interceptions – 0.31 (51st percentile)
  • Tackles + Interceptions – 1.54 (83rd percentile)
  • Blocks – 1.78 (98th percentile)
  • Passes blocked – 1.69 (98th percentile)
  • Clearances – 0.85 (71st percentile)


Okay, having a striker that can defend maybe isn’t always the priority for fans, but I guarantee it’s something coaches value. It’s also the kind of thing that comes with a bit of experience. Young players are often much more prone to lapses in concentration. When a team presses as high as Chelsea and aims to close down the spaces so aggressively, all it takes is for one player to switch off for us to concede a chance. This isn’t something you need to worry about with Ings and while it’s not the main reason to sign him, it adds value to him as a player.

The right profile

This is perhaps the most important factor in why Ings makes sense, and it becomes apparent the more you watch him play. Thomas Tuchel doesn’t like target men or strikers who rely on balls into feet to be effective. It’s why he doesn’t use Olivier Giroud much and is likely why Abraham is (perhaps unfairly) being forced out.

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What it seems like Thomas Tuchel looks for in his strikers is the ability to be part of a fluid front three and to run the channels. Danny Ings does this and is comfortable dropping deep the receive the ball or pulling out wide to cut inside. Over his career he has also played briefly as a winger and this experience has helped him become a more complete forward. He has a turn of pace which allows him to break in behind a back line, while also having dribbling abilities above PL average and better than our current options.

Dribbles completed/attempted (per 90):

  • Danny Ings – 1.53/2.65
  • Tammy Abraham – 0.5/1.43
  • Timo Werner – 1.01/2.49
  • Olivier Giroud – 0.29/0.46

I think this relatively complete set of attributes makes Ings a player who could thrive at a club like Chelsea. Ever since coming in, Tuchel has been visibly frustrated with Timo Werner and other’s complete lack of awareness of where the onion bag is. The idea of a striker who will hit the target on a consistent basis, while also providing good all-around play must be one that appeals.

Premier League proven.

It’s easy to write this one off as domestic bias but Premier League experience is important. There is a reason why transfers between English teams are expensive. It’s also a reason why Romelu Lukaku represents a high quality and low risk signing.

Having experience playing in the Premier League at several different levels removes risk from the signing. There is no need to wait for a player to adapt to the physicality of the league, learn a new language or settle in a new country. It’s safe to assume that a player of Danny Ings’ experience would hit the ground running and score goals straight out of the gate. Very important considering our immediate issues with finding the back of the net on a consistent basis!

The right age.

Danny Ings is 28 and if you ask me, it’s the perfect age for a Chelsea striker. He’s developed a consistency that you just don’t get with younger players.

He could also provide some much-needed experience in what is a very young Chelsea squad. While youthful exuberance can be a great thing in a team, it can also cause problems. The games that we’ve struggled in most this season are against defensive teams who shut up shop and play for the draw. What you really need in games like this is for experience to shine through so you can take the chances when they come. Look no further than Danny Ings.

Cheap and Low risk

Another reason I’ve gravitated towards Danny Ings as an ideal striker signing for Chelsea is that he represents low-risk business. The Southampton striker has a market value on TransferMarket of £19.80 million and a contract due to expire in June 2022. Where else will you find a Premier League striker in the prime of their career, with a 1 in 2 goal ratio and good all-round play for a rumoured transfer fee of £20 to £30 million?

Also, with a proven track record at mid to lower table teams, he wouldn’t be hard to move on should the transfer not work out or he becomes surplus to requirements. It’s the kind of opportunity that if we pass up, another top team will certainly pounce on.

Concerns

Danny Ings is a great player, but in the interest of balance, I think it’s important we look at the negatives.

One is the impact on Tammy Abraham. It could be argued that Ings is not enough of a step up from Tammy to justify pushing him out of the club. What I would argue, however, is that Thomas Tuchel seems to already have made his mind up. I like Tammy Abraham a lot but it’s clear that his future won’t be at Chelsea and while he may become an elite striker, he isn’t that yet and what we seem to want is instant success in that position. Danny Ings provides that and fits the right profile.

Another thing to consider with Danny Ings is injuries. It’s why he didn’t make it at Liverpool and has caused him to miss nearly two years over the last six seasons. It does appear that he has put the serious injuries behind him at Southampton although a look through his recent history would suggest he will still miss a couple of months per season with various muscular problems and knocks.

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Still, with the role we would likely be asking him to play at the club, I’m not sure this is too much of a concern. We would still have Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and potentially even Armando Broja to provide cover so a few minor injuries might not be a big deal.

The right man for Chelsea.

To wrap up, I sincerely believe that Danny Ings could be the right man for Chelsea. While I would like to see us sign a world class striker like Lukaku or Haaland, I don’t believe that it’s absolutely necessary to our success next season. Danny Ings solves our immediate goal scoring issues, allowing us to invest in Kai Havertz as our long-term striker and perhaps most importantly, free’s up the funds to strengthen other areas of the squad. Rumours have suggested that Thomas Tuchel wants reinforcements in midfield, on the right wing, at centre back and at wing back. The £60 odd million saved could be the difference in us getting our top targets in these other areas.

When you look at our attack, we have all of the ingredients to be a very dangerous side. It’s just about finding that final piece to tie everything together. In my opinion, that piece is Kai Havertz but Danny Ings would be a very welcome addition to the squad and could provide the extra firepower we need to help us challenge for the Premier League title next season.

He’s not the glamorous signing that many will be clamouring for but what he represents to me is smart business that addresses both our long and short term future. Perhaps something we’ve not thought about as much as we should’ve over the past several seasons.

Written by CFCExtra (@CFCExtra)

Edited by Matt North


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