Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl says “there is no reason to sell” Danny Ings but the striker entering the final year of his contract without a new deal in place is “not a perfect situation”.
Ings has scored 41 Premier League goals in three years at Saints after joining from Liverpool.
“We need this player, we want him to play for us,” said Hasenhuttl.
“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.”
Speaking to BBC Radio Solent sports editor Adam Blackmore, the Austrian added: “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.
“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.”
- Listen to the full Hasenhuttl interview here
Ings initially joined Saints on loan from Liverpool before making the move permanent in July 2019 for £20m.
He suffered two major knee injuries in his three years at Anfield but regained his form on the south coast, scoring 22 Premier League goals in 2019-20 and 12 last season.
Having been in Gareth Southgate’s England squad for matches in September and October 2020, Ings’ chances of making the squad for Euro 2020 were hindered by a succession of niggling problems, including a positive Covid test.
Hasenhuttl added: “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.”
Analysis – ‘No enquiries yet for star striker’
BBC Radio Solent sports editor Adam Blackmore
There is no problem between Saints and Ings. He loves playing for the club, but understandably wants to see if he can play at the highest level again and get a crack at European football as he approaches his 29th birthday.
We all know there are three outcomes here – he goes in the transfer window, he gives Saints one more year and walks on a free, or he signs the deal that Saints have had on the table for a while.
The club would rather have another year out of their top scorer, that is better than losing him now. But as Hasenhuettl says, having a player running his contract down is not ideal for anyone.
So far none of the clubs who Ings would hope to move to have made an enquiry. As time goes on the risk of waiting for a chain of events that leads to a move gets higher for Danny. With his injury history he has to be careful not to gamble too much.