Southampton are remaining defiant over star striker Danny Ings, despite speculation that the contract rebel is interesting a number of England’s top sides.
The 28-year-old stunned the Saints following his refusal to agree to a new deal earlier this month, with his existing contract set to expire in 12 months time, opening up the likelihood of a potential sale in the coming weeks.
After a difficult spell at Liverpool, the England international has rediscovered his fitness and his goalscoring touch at St Mary’s, having netted 34 Premier League goals in the last two seasons combined.
That form has seen the former Burnley man seeking pastures new, as he hopes to test himself at a higher level, with a number of the top-flight’s biggest sides said to be interested in his services.
Manchester United are one name to have been mentioned, despite tieing veteran marksmen Edinson Cavani down to a new deal, while city rivals Manchester City have also been linked, the champions seeking a replacement for the departed Sergio Aguero.
Their pursuit of a new centre-forward has seen them heavily linked with a move for Tottenham Hotspur talisman Harry Kane, that potential deal sparking Spurs’ interest in Ings as a possible name to fill the England captain’s boots.
With Chelsea also in the market for a striker, Ings could be at the centre of a real tug-of-war for his signature this summer, although his current boss Ralph Hasenhuttl insisted that the Saints are keen for him to stay.
“We need this player, we want him to play for us,” Hasenhuttl told BBC Radio Solent.
“But I think it’s never helpful to go into the last season with one year left – this is what I think he should know.”
Ings’ refusal to commit to a new deal has left all parties in a precarious situation, with Hasenhuttl admitting that having a player with just a year left on his contract is far from ideal, although he insisted that ‘there’s no reason to sell him’.
“Messages like he doesn’t accept our contract, he doesn’t want to extend his contract, doesn’t help nobody – not him, not us. I don’t know who sent these messages, it’s not coming from our side, definitely not,” he added.
“We have no interest in blaming the player or finding that he’s not feeling good here at this club, no interest in not helping perform the best he can for us. It’s his position and if it’s like this, it would be a pity.
“He’s our player for another year, we paid a lot of money for him. When we brought him here, we invested a lot to get him to the highest level and how he is at the moment. We stuck with him with all these injuries he had, gave him the time to recover, gave him the time to perform.
“There’s no reason to sell him, but it’s always a risk for the player when you go into your final year without a contract. That’s why it’s never good for nobody, not for us, not for him, because you never know what can happen in football – injuries can happen, which nobody wants.
“People on our team are telling him what to do, we have our opinions about what we want him to do. He’s our player and we’d love him to be here, but one thing is also clear – when he is not extending his contract, that it is not a perfect situation for him, it’s not a perfect situation for us.”