Seemingly out of nowhere, Aston Villa announced that the club signed forward Danny Ings from Southampton on Wednesday evening for a fee believed to be £30 million.
The signing came hours after the club announced it completed the signing of Leon Bailey from German side Bayer Leverkusen. Both moves came following morning news that captain Jack Grealish will sign for Manchester City in the coming days.
Villa were expected to be busy before the transfer deadline on August 31, but supporters were shocked to see the club work so quickly on incomings after it became clear Grealish was to leave. Adding to the surprise was the lack of chatter linking Ings with the club.
Commenting on the Aston Villa website, manager Dean Smith said of Ings:
"“Danny is an outstanding Premier League footballer who has scored goals wherever he has played. He is also a top professional with a great character who will be a leader in our squad and a role model for our rapidly developing young Academy players who are now in and around the first team. I am delighted to welcome Danny to our great Club.”"
Ings arrives at Aston Villa having spent the last three seasons at Southampton where he scored 41 times in 91 Premier League matches. In 2019/20, the forward tallied 22 times in the league, the second-highest total of any player and one fewer than Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy.
Dean Smith has options going forward with Ings in the squad.
Ollie Watkins led the line for Villa in 2020/21 and scored 14 goals in his first season in the Premier League, but it became painstakingly obvious that the club needed to bring in reinforcements. The inconsistency of Kienan Davis and the long-term effects of Wesley’s devastating injury limited options at center forward, and there was belief the club could bring in a striker.
Bringing in a forward of Ings’ quality was surprising, though, considering Watkins’ strong showing last year. But Ings’ arrival has been met with great fanfare, with many supporters believing Smith may set up his squad with a two-man strike force.
Smith deployed Watkins out wide when the pair were with Brentford in 2017/18, so using Watkins as a winger to make room for Ings up top is certainly a possibility. Though, that seems unlikely as Watkins has established himself as an elite center forward since switching positions.
Tough decisions ahead for Smith but it’s good to see Villa splashing with Grealish halfway out the door. It will take several players to fill the hole Grealish leaves behind, but Ings and Bailey are a good start.