England international Danny Ings wants to return to a Champions League club this summer and is holding off on a new deal at Southampton to make sure he has the best possible chance should the opportunity present itself. The 28-year-old finished last season with 25 goals in all competitions and, despite a minor knee problem this season, has already scored seven in 14 games for Southampton, with the club prepared to make him the best-paid player in their history to commit to the next four years. Southampton will not agree to a release clause in a new deal that would limit the fee they could realise for the player in the summer and would, instead, take their chances in the open market. Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has publicly encouraged Ings to sign the new deal, describing the contract on offer as “fantastic”. He also said on Monday that if Ings chose not to sign then “life will go on”. Ings signed for Liverpool in 2015 but missed the opportunity to play a key role in Jurgen Klopp’s new regime when he suffered injuries in October of that year, and then again 13 months later. He has always been convinced he could return to a Champions League club with an injury-free run. He has been without any problems since the summer of 2017 and his goalscoring and all-round form over the past two seasons at Southampton has propelled him back into the England squad. The player’s key consideration is not financial but to give himself the best possible opportunity to play at the highest level again. The transfer market is in flux with the effects of Covid-19, although it is possible that the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and even his former club, Liverpool, might be in the market for a striker this summer. There was interest from Tottenham Hotspur in Ings during the summer with the club eventually opting to buy the Brazilian Carlos Vinicius as back-up, a much cheaper option then in the circumstances. With one year left on his contract this summer, and in the kind of form he showed in the win over Liverpool this month, Ings would be an attractive prospect to a club looking for a proven striker. Southampton have offered Ings a contract that would exceed the historic deal given to goalkeeper Fraser Forster and the recent contract for captain James Ward-Prowse. The terms of that deal are agreed and the decision now rests with Ings. There is no question at Southampton that the player is committed to their season in which they went top of the table in November, and his relationship with Hasenhuttl remains good. Ings arrived before the Austrian, coming from Liverpool in the summer of 2018, initially on a loan deal for one year and then a three-year contract. Liverpool would be due a percentage of any sell-on fee. Ings grew up just outside Southampton and was originally released from the academy as a child, later earning a scholarship at Bournemouth. He moved from Burnley to Liverpool as a free agent in the summer of 2015 but injured an anterior cruciate ligament in the first training session under Klopp. His part in the 2016-2017 season was ended by a cartilage injury in the November of that campaign, although he came back to play a role for Klopp in 2017-2018, his final season at the club. Hasenhuttl said on Tuesday night that he was still confident of keeping Ings. Asked about his desire for Champions League football, his manager said: “I think if he wants Champions League football, he scores 10 or 12 more goals we can get there. Not impossible.” Southampton have signed new contracts this season with key players including Ward-Prowse, Stuart Armstrong, Oriol Romeu and Jan Bednarek. They are also looking to complete an agreement with left-back Ryan Bertrand.
The Merseysiders’ goalless run was extended to three games on Sunday with a 0-0 draw against Manchester United.
Alex Iwobi and Michael Keane scored as the Toffees won at Molineux.
WSL's big three on high alert in Champions League race like no otherManchester United’s rise could see one of Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal miss out of next year’s revamped competition