Liverpool have offered Stewart Downing to a number of Premier League clubs for a fee of £5m according to reports. Newcastle manager Alan Pardew distanced himself from a move for the Liverpool winger last night. It speaks volumes about Downing’s performance since his move from Aston Villa that Brendan Rodgers is prepared to take a £15m loss on the Englishman. Some Liverpool fans may be surprised that the club want to sell now especially after his form picked up towards the back end of last season. The club does have an impressive set of wingers, after adding Luis Alberto to the squad which may have made Downing surplus to requirements.
During his first season for the Reds,in which he played a part in 36 matches, Downing’s performance became a popular joke for fans of other clubs as he failed to assist one goal which was poor considering he was brought in to create goals for Andy Carroll. His crossing accuracy of 23% isn’t something to be laughed at, while the England International created 55 chances, 11 if which were clear cut. This shows that he did manage to create chances and his poor stats may be partially down to his team-mates poor finishing. He created a chance every 45 minutes so he wasn’t as useless as he was made out to be by many football fans. His inflated fee may have brought extra pressure which led to higher analysis of his performance.
Last season under Rodgers, the winger stepped up his performance and his figures greatly improved and we saw a return to the form that made Liverpool buy him in the first place. Despite playing in only 29 matches, he managed to get 5 assists and his crossing accuracy was improved to 28%. He also created 65 chances which came every 34 minutes. This showed that he was among the best wingers in the league in terms of the rate he created his chances at, however he created less clear cut chances than the previous season as he only managed 7. This highlights the poor finishing of the Liverpool side under Kenny Dalglish in the 2011/12 campaign. The former Middlesborough trainee managed to add goals to his game as he netted three times.
The season which launched him into Dalglish’s thoughts was 2010/11 for Aston Villa. He played in a team which finished 9th but only ten points above the bottom three in a tight Premier League. He started all 38 games and he assisted 7 times which is a good return for a team in mid table. He also managed to create 85 chances which meant he created a chance every 40 minutes. Of these chances, 19 were clear cut. These stats show that he can be up there with the best wingers in the league. Furthermore he managed to score 7 goals which highlights his goal threat. The move to Liverpool should have seen an improvement on these figures but something hasn’t clicked for Downing at Anfield.
If Liverpool continue to try and move the winger on for £5m then a number of Premier League clubs should move for the England International as he is still a creative threat. The 29-year-old still has a few years left at the top and this season is crucial for him as he attempts to make the World Cup squad. At his age he needs a club which will offer him a first team place which is unlikely to happen if he stays in Merseyside. Stoke City should be interested in him as Mark Hughes tries to change their robust style of play, Downing is used to playing attractive football after impressing under Rodgers. Despite the club distancing themselves from Downing, Newcastle may make a move as they want to strengthen their left wing position as Jonas Gutierrez doesn’t make much of a contribution going forward. The only thing that would put of the North East club is his age as Mike Ashley prefers to buy younger players with lower wages and a higher sell on value.