Danny Ings will move to Liverpool once his Burnley contract expires at the end of this month, and his departure will leave Sean Dyche’s side without a player who can replicate the England U21 striker’s form.
Ings finished the season as Burnley’s top scorer after netting 11 league goals; whilst fellow forwards Sam Vokes, Marvin Sordell, and Lukas Jutkiewicz each finished the campaign without a single goal to their names after a combined total of 64 appearances. Ashley Barnes completed his tally with five in 35, but after suffering a serious knee injury he will be unavailable for the majority of next season.
25-year-old Vokes did have an excellent campaign when the Clarets won promotion from the Championship in 2014, netting 20 league goals after forming a formidable partnership with Ings. But will he be able to recreate that form after a year without a goal and with his teammate no longer at Turf Moor?
Marvin Sordell has had one stand-out season in the second tier – his breakthrough season at Watford in 2012 saw him net 15 goals, prompting a move to the Premier League with Bolton. But he has never really been able to reach the heights expected of him, netting just 16 goals in the four years since then.
This leaves Burnley facing a huge problem. If they are to achieve an immediate return to the Premier League, replacing Danny Ings must be their number one priority. They are due a hefty compensation package from Liverpool, the latest figure mentioned being around £6m, and it is imperative that these funds are directly invested in a striker.
Frank McParland, the club’s sporting director, successfully replaced Clayton Donaldson with Andre Gray whilst working at Brentford last year; and he is also the man credited with unearthing the talents of Dirk Kuyt, Fernando Torres and Raheem Sterling when he was chief scout at Liverpool.
But can the 53-year-old do the same sort of job with Burnley? He has admitted that he will be bringing in “decent players” this summer, but will they be decent enough to win an immediate promotion back to the Premier League? Fulham and Cardiff couldn’t master it last season, nor could Reading or Wigan the year before that. The same goes for Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton in 2013.
It is clear that finding the right players to make a return to the higher echelons of English football is much, much more easier said than it is done.
So, that being said, who can replace Danny Ings? If Burnley are to find success next season, they must find a striker who can net 20 goals or so, and that will be a hugely difficult task.
Ipswich’s Daryl Murphy has been mentioned. The 32-year-old was the Championship’s top scorer last season with 27 goals, but the Tractor Boys’ failure to progress past the play-offs leaves them vulnerable to bids for the Irish international this summer. Fulham, Cardiff and Hull have been linked with moves for the striker, whilst QPR are reportedly lining up the former Celtic man as their replacement for Charlie Austin, who is expected to leave the club imminently. But Murphy himself has attempted to quash these rumours, admitting that it is “flattering” to be linked with moves to the Premier League but distancing himself from a move out of Ipswich. If he is dismissing a transfer to the biggest league in the world, can Frank McParland really expect him to make the move to Burnley?
Additionally, at the age of 32 Murphy isn’t ‘one for the future.’ Part of the reason Ings made the move to Liverpool is that, at 22, he has the potential to set the league alight. Almost a decade his senior, is Murphy a step in the right direction? The former Sunderland hitman is bound to command a high transfer fee, with Cardiff linked to a £4m bid. Spending so much on a player for the sake of two or three years surely can’t be feasible for club renowned for not spending big or needlessly.
Crystal Palace’s Dwight Gayle is another name who has been mentioned as Ings’ successor. At 25, he would definitely be more of an ‘investment’ than a quick-fix, and, although unproven in the Championship, he has scored 18 times during his two years with the Eagles and could do a job for Sean Dyche’s side. However, following Alan Pardew’s appointment as Palace boss in January, Gayle fell out of favour and made only 12 appearances in the league and has been heavily linked with moves away from London.
He surely fits the bill for Burnley. Young, hungry, and eager to prove that he can cut it at the highest level. Dropping down a division may not be ideal for the former Peterborough youngster, but maybe necessary to find the fantastic form he held whilst on loan at Bishop’s Stortford three years ago. Granted, the club were playing two levels below the Football League, but 42 goals in 55 appearances shows that the potential is there.
The only setback if McParland and Dyche were to move for Gayle would be the price. Crystal Palace are eager to recoup the £6m they spent on him in 2013, and should the latest estimates be anything to go by, that would be the entirety of the compensation package received from Liverpool. A bit pricey you might say, but young, English strikers are in short supply and come at a premium. Look at Andy Carroll’s move from Newcastle to Merseyside in 2011, and more recently Harry Kane’s £50m price tag after only one season playing week in, week out.
Should they be priced out of a move for Gayle, Huddersfield’s Nahki Wells is the third name that has been touted as Burnley’s new star striker. A much cheaper option, Wells was once destined for great success after an impressive three seasons at Bradford City, where he gave a return of 53 goals in 112 games.
His goal record since a £1.2m move to Huddersfield in 2012 hasn’t been too bad either. Netting 20 times in 53 appearances, the Bermudan has shown that he has what it takes to be a Football League success. 14 of those goals came last term as Wells established himself as an important member of the Terriers’ squad.
Chris Powell sees the former Carlisle forward as a key factor to any potential success at the John Smith’s Stadium, but may be willing to let him leave Yorkshire for the right price. Out of the three mentioned here, Wells would definitely be the cheapest option for Burnley, even if Huddersfield seek a fair profit. What Dyche would have to consider, though, is whether or not the player could make the step-up from mid-table mediocrity to challenging for promotion.
The backroom team at Turf Moor will certainly be working tirelessly all summer to ensure that they get the right man; whether that be Daryl Murphy, Nahki Wells or some other name. What’s for certain is that whoever they bring in will have the quality to get the Tykes back into the Premier League. It is just a question of if they can use that quality to get them there.
Burnley fans… Who do you think your club should sign this summer? Would any of the names mentioned in this article be able to replace Danny Ings, or is there somebody else who can fire your club back into the top tier? Let us know what you think in the comments below!