However, Southampton were reportedly adamant that Ings, their top goalscorer, was not for sale.
The 27-year-old has scored 14 goals in the Premier League so far this season, which places him in joint third spot on the top scorers' list.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is another striker on 14, as well as United's very own Marcus Rashford.
Rashford won't be adding to his tally until at least mid-to-late April after suffering a double stress fracture to his lower spine.
The injury forced the Red Devils to search for a proven goalscorer to come in and try to make up the numbers.
Ings, who is odds on to be recalled by Gareth Southgate for England's March friendlies, was understood to have been identified as the ideal solution.
But the ex-Liverpool forward was seen as too pivotal a player to lose by Southampton, who need a final push to secure their Premier League status for another season.
The Saints started the season looking like they could be on their way to the Championship but have recently found enough form to lift them to ninth in the table.
Manchester United, who are only three points ahead of Southampton, are chasing the Champions League places and were hoping to add firepower to propel them into the top four.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reportedly held an emergency meeting with staff towards the end of the window to determine who the club could sign.
United ended up taking Nigerian striker Odio Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Greenland Shenua.
The 30-year-old used to play for Watford, scoring 33 goals in 82 games during his three-year stay.
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