LFC Scout Report: Tom Ince

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We continue our look at potential new signings for Liverpool in January – this time it’s Blackpool winger Tom Ince, who is widely expected to re-sign for Liverpool in the opening days of January for £4m.

[sws_grey_box box_size=”600″]Full name: Thomas Christopher Ince
Date of birth: 30 January 1992 (age 20)
Place of birth: Stockport, England
Playing position: Winger, left or right
Previous clubs: Liverpool, Notts County (loan), Blackpool[/sws_grey_box]

As I sat and watched Liverpool try to break down Aston Villa, I couldn’t help but think of all the frustrating times at home where Liverpool have failed to break through a disciplined deep defence. I couldn’t help but think this is a team that (apart from Suarez) lacks creativity, penetration and the willingness/bravery to try something different, especially in the wide positions. So today we take a look at former Liverpool employee Tom Ince who has been providing plenty of creativity for Blackpool in the Championship since his move from Liverpool.

Tom is the son of former Liverpool and Man United midfielder Paul Ince. Born into a family which not only includes Paul Ince but the former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Clayton Ince, it becomes no surprise that Tom Ince chose football as his preferred profession.

Like most talented footballers Tom Ince started playing football from a very early age no doubt he was influenced and inspired by certain members of his family. However unlike the former footballers in the Ince family Tom is a very different type of player and grew up as a different type of player to that of his dad. Ince is predominantly a winger who can play on either side but if required he can also play behind the striker, he is very much left footed.

Talented from a young age it wasn’t long before Liverpool spotted his talent and decided to offer him a youth contract at the tender age of 16. It took two years for Ince to make his debut, finally getting his chance when he was brought on during that infamous defeat to Northampton Town. It seems the terrifying experience of that game didn’t affect Ince too much mentally, as not long later he was loaned out to Notts County where he impressed for his dad who was manager of Notts County at the time. Ince scored 2 goals in 5 games during his loan spell scoring his first ever senior goal against the MK Dons.

Ince returned to Liverpool after his loan spell at Notts County but he didn’t make another appearance in the first team before he joined Blackpool in the summer of 2011. Reported contract disputations and Ince’s desire to play first team football led to his departure and it’s safe to say Ince hasn’t regretted his move to Blackpool since.

An impressive first season for Blackpool saw Ince firing in 8 goals and getting 8 assists in 41 appearances with 11 of those appearances coming from the bench. To top a brilliant season off, Ince also scored the equalising goal against West Ham in the play-off final at Wembley which unfortunately for Ince Blackpool went on to lose 2-1.

Things were only set to get better for Ince however, this season Ince has already scored and assisted more than he did in the entirety of last season in half a season. He currently has an impressive record of 13 goals and 9 assists in just 21 appearances. Ince’s talent and impressive performances haven’t gone unnoticed with Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool all being linked with him at some point.

Some Liverpool supporters can’t believe that he was allowed to leave especially now that Liverpool are reportedly close to sealing a £4-6million deal to bring him back. All I can say about that is Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas and Jordi Alba. Sometimes players just need to be let go for them to develop their talents otherwise they stagnate.

Strengths

So what are Ince’s talents? There is no doubt he is a talented player who after just a season and a half in The Championship already looks ready for a step or two up. His main assets are his acceleration, close control, skill, dribbling and pace. You will quite often see him isolate a defender just outside the box on either wing before using his acceleration and tricky skills to create a yard of space which he often exploits by assisting with a cross to his team mates or by having a shot at goal.

Ince is not just a one trick pony however; his game isn’t all about creating a yard of space for a shot or cross. He is a menace on the counter attack with clever diagonal runs in behind the defence coming in from either flank, which often results in him being one on one with the keeper, where he has been known to calmly dispatch the ball into the back of the net. His goals and assists are obviously another asset of his; he is highly creative and is often the focal point of every good thing that Blackpool does, he is sorely missed when he doesn’t play however this isn’t often the case.

Beyond all the good attacking work that Ince does he has been described as a player with great work rate and a healthy knowledge of the work required from him defensively and in defensive positions.

Weaknesses

As with every player Ince has his weaknesses. He is predominantly a left footed player with a weak right foot, he is always looking to cut inside when out on the right and always looking to go on the outside of a defender when he is on the left. Could this mean he would be predictable and easier to stop for the better defenders in the Premier League, or does he have the ability and the talent to adapt and develop further?

Another weakness of Ince’s is his heading, whilst he isn’t the shortest player ever at 5ft 10 he is often dominated in the air but then of course does that really matter when he is normally the one giving players the crosses to get on the end of?

A further Ince weakness is his desire to always want to score a goal, or greediness as it’s also known. Often instead of playing the simple pass he will try a shot or a piece of skill. It can be argued however that Liverpool could do with some more greedy players who always want to and look to score.

His final weakness is that he is a bit of an unknown quantity at the highest level, does he have the ability to do what he does for Blackpool for a club like Liverpool? He is talented but sometimes even very talented players struggle to do it on the big stages and no one can ever explain why.

Ince and Liverpool 2013

What can Ince bring to LFC? He can bring something we don’t have much of which is skill, dribbling, pace, a hunger for goals and a desire to make something happen. A willingness to try something different and do something outrageous, which currently only Suarez offers us. No one knows if he would be able to recreate his Blackpool form with Liverpool but I have no doubt that at the very least we won’t be seeing him play panicky cross after panicky cross into the box like our wide men did against Aston Villa. It also goes without saying that if Ince is signed and he can show what he has shown for Blackpool with Liverpool that Liverpool will have a genuine future world class player in the team.

A gamble Ince might be with him playing in The Championship but for £4-6million is he a gamble worth taking?

Previous Scout Reports:
Daniel Sturridge
Demba Ba
Christian Eriksen
Wilfried Bony

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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