Ralph Hasenhuttl remains ‘positive’ Danny Ings will stay, but the club sits and waits. The battle of attrition continues


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For all the hullaballoo encompassing the future of Danny Ings, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s school of thought has rarely deviated.

You would be able to forgive the Southampton boss if he looked at the Danny Ings/protracted contract situation as one long tedious affair. This season, nearly each and every press conference has been fraught with Ings rhetoric, with reporters continually prodding Hasenhuttl to issue an update on the saga.

And with each passing week, Ings’ current deal, which expires on June 30 2022, is becoming a perennial matter of importance. But in spite of the rather prolonged ‘will he, won’t he?’ conundrum, Hasenhuttl has continued to deliver the same response.

“You can be sure that we are negotiating with the agent and with him,” Hasenhuttl said on Friday. “And as I said, I am very positive that he is also the future part of Southampton Football Club.”

“I expect him to stay with us because he knows what he has with us. He has one more year contract. This will be an interesting situation if one of the big clubs want him, it’s always difficult for us to keep a player. This is normal, but I don’t see this scenario in the summer to be honest.”

In December, preceding his side’s away trip to Brighton, Hasenhuttl said something eerily similar: “He stays with us until the end of his contract. Either (that or) there comes a club that pays the money we want to have for him and then he can leave.”

Beginning to recognise the reoccurring theme yet?

The narrative has not changed. In-fact, the narrative has become more periodic, more undeviating.

Is it a case of Hasenhuttl knowing something we don’t or are there other significant caveats that stand in the way of a decision being made, one way or the other? Perhaps neither, perhaps both.

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More likely, however, it is a case of waiting for Hasenhuttl, the club and Ings. As Prost International outlined in December, Ings still harbours ambitions to play at the top echelons of the Premier League, but has also made clear his desire for regular match-time. Finding the correct balance between the two is thought to have been a bone of contention in contract discussions.

It is likely to be one of the final lucrative contracts of Ings’ career, so committing to Southampton does require meticulous thought.

What exactly is slowing the pace of negotiations down is yet to be conclusively confirmed. Currently, circumstances regarding potential buy-out clauses, release clauses and other incremental points of contention are slightly opaque. It is believed Ings’ weekly wage is not particularly a sticking point, with Southampton already offering him a basic pay grade which would make Ings the highest earner at the club. Ralph Hasenhuttl described the proposal as “fantastic.”

It is worth bearing in mind that if Ings does sign a new deal on the south coast, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has committed his long-term future to the club.

Recent links to Manchester City are understood to be somewhat premature at this stage. While City did intensify their interest in the Southampton forward in January and mooted an initial enquiry, they have other options which are shortlisted higher and subsequently more of a priority than Ings.

Reports suggest Man City are the front-runners of any English club to secure Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, while Romelu Lukaku and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are viable alternatives.

For some clubs, there are some questions over Ings’ ability to play as a lone striker and not in a formation or system which proves conducive to him working in a front-two.

It is not out of the realms of possibility that Man City do acquire Ings or another domestic powerhouse with financial might enters the ever-changing landscape. Hasenhuttl does accept the fact that the upcoming window is likely to be ‘a very hot transfer summer’, essentially rendering Saints’ wants and desires futile, providing the correct offer comes along.

“I know there are names like Haaland and (Jadon) Sancho who are on the list of the big clubs of Man City and Man United,” Hasenhuttl said on Friday. “They have the financial potential to take everybody. For Ingsy, he had a fantastic season last season. Since then, he’s had a few injury problems and he didn’t score that much.”

Right now, Southampton sit, wait and hope no offers come in for Ings. If a transfer and contractual proposal arrives which does move the needle, they will be left with no other choice but to say farewell.

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Essentially, the complexion of Saints’ summer does largely hinge on what the bigger clubs decide to do. If they make a favourable beeline for Ings, then the dynamic will alter. If not, Ings is likely to renew his contract and the cogs will begin whirring on a slew of team-mates, whose contracts are similarly running down.

Hasenhuttl has remained steadfast in his belief that Danny Ings will stay, possibly aligning to thought that, in his opinion, there are reservations as to whether Ings can cut it at the top level.

“He’s a very good striker, if he’s a good enough striker to be an option for them (Manchester City), I don’t know.”

A resolution doesn’t appear any closer to being resolved. It is now the case of sitting, waiting and then doing a little bit more of the same.


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About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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