Jurgen Klopp strongly believes the best years of Danny Ings’ career are still to come following an emotional Anfield departure.
The striker sealed a deadline day move to Southampton on Thursday having informed the Reds of his desire to leave in search of regular first team football earlier in the window.
An extensive list of options immediately formed in light of the news, with Crystal Palace and Newcastle having both expressed strong interest in signing him.
Ings’ boyhood club Southampton became the obvious choice in the end as what he and Liverpool deemed the ideal opportunity to resurrect a career cruelly hampered by injury over the past three years.
Klopp bid a touching farewell as Ings completed his loan move, which will become a permanent deal next summer.
“It is a very strange feeling saying goodbye to Danny,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
“The biggest emotion is how much we will miss him.”
“He is such an outstanding boy. Honestly, if you could bottle character and spirit, his would sell worldwide – he is so incredibly positive and full of energy. But we won’t just miss his character because he is a footballer who has all the tools.”
“So we say farewell to a friend, but for Danny I know the best chapters in his personal story are still to be written.”
Ings took significant strides in his bid to rediscover his form last season, reclaiming a place in Klopp’s first-team plans following the turn of the year.
The Reds boss notably blocked a January move for Ings in view of the Englishman adding necessary strength in depth as the club contended with key injuries whilst juggling a top-four pursuit and Champions League football.
A first Premier League start since October 2015 arrived in April when Ings led the line in a goalless Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
He scored his first league goal in 930 days later in the month with a close-range strike in Liverpool’s draw with West Brom.
An encouraging second half of the season also entailed a Champions League debut in the Reds’ dominant last-16 first-leg win away to Porto.
Having performed so admirably for the U23s in an effort to break back into senior contention, Ings deserves every bit of success at St Mary’s. Mark Hughes not only has a magnificent professional to dispose of, but a man capable of becoming a reliable source of goals.