One of this season’s longest-running transfer stories continues to rumble on, as reports in Spain suggest Liverpool have made another improved offer for Blackpool starlet Thomas Ince. The fee has allegedly risen to £8.5 million as Blackpool look to optimise their profit in a deal complicated by clauses from Ince’s transfer from Liverpool in 2011.
Ince has attracted the attention of other Premier League clubs, with The Times reporting that Swansea are also in contention to sign the England Under-21 winger. But why is Ince so highly-rated by club, country, and the aforementioned suitors? Besides, Liverpool let him go for £500,000 just 18 months ago.
A winger by trade, Thomas Ince has all the traits you would associate with a wide player. He is pacey, with a cultured left foot, and has the skill to beat defenders when one-on-one. Ince also has good positional awareness, and often cuts in from the wing to cause problems for full backs and central defenders.
At the tender age of 20, he can only be judged on his 18 months with Blackpool. However, he has some impressive Championship statistics: 20 goals and 17 assists from 60 league appearances, including 13 goals and 10 assists in 25 appearances this season. It is easy to see why he has attracted attention.
There is still plenty to work on for young Ince. In 5 appearances for the national Under-21 side, he has shown glimpses of his talent without making any headlines. Many pundits have suggested that he can improve on his prowess in front of goal – his 13 this season have come from 68 attempts. Ince can provide excellent service from wide areas, but he must work on consistently providing quality crosses.
Can Ince cross the wide divide from Championship to Premier League? It has proved too big a step for many decent league players in recent years, but Ince could bridge the gap. The opportunity to work with top class players on a daily basis will help to build on the obvious talent he possesses, and - managed correctly – could see him progress into a regular international player.
Therein lies the transfer fee conundrum – young English players are much more expensive than their foreign counterparts, and English league clubs demand much higher fees than on the continent due to the high level of competition in our country. Blackpool have every right to demand a high fee, as losing Ince could cost them in the remainder of this season, and in the long term his value is only going to rise.
In the light of Ba’s £7 million fee, £8.5 million for Ince looks rather silly. Nevertheless, it could also be a sound long-term investment in a promising English youngster.