Liverpool Transfer News: Stewart Downing's January Anfield Exit Is Best For Both Parties

It came as no surprise when it was revealed Stewart Downing would be allowed to leave Liverpool in the January transfer window, just 16 months after the winger had signed for the Anfield club. 

In a summer of high spending under former boss Kenny Dalglish, the Reds paid out £20 million to Aston Villa for Downing after the England international put in an impressive display during the 2010/11 campaign, winning the Midlands club player of the year award. 

Indeed, Downing seemed to be a good fit for the Merseyside club, with the side for a long time lacking an out-and-out winger with the ability to take on a man and play consistently dangerous balls into the box. 

Not only did the former Middlesbrough man offer Liverpool some much needed creativity out wide, he had also shown during his time at Aston Villa that he could operate all across the middle of the park, featuring regularly on the left, in the middle and occasionally out on the right wing. 

It was even mentioned when Downing signed for Liverpool that he was that versatile he could even deputise as a left-back, ironic considering it turned out to be the position present Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers wanted him to adapt to in order to save his Reds career. 

But it didn't turn out how either Downing nor Dalglish wanted it to. The number nineteen went the whole of his first season without scoring a Premier League goal or even creating one, whilst Liverpool languished in the league which saw Fenway Sports Group end Dalglish's tenure at Anfield. 

Brendan Rodgers arrival as the new Anfield boss initially looked to be a new start for Downing at Liverpool, with the 28-year-old, impressing enough in pre-season to earn a place in the Reds first Premier League game under the Northern Irishman against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. 

It was a game that ended in defeat, disappointment for Downing that was only going to added to by a failure to feature in any more of Rodgers' Premier League starting line-ups since, with youngsters Fabio Borini, Raheem Sterling and Suso Fernandes all rising above Downing in the pecking order. 

The experienced Teesside native may feel hard done by, but all three of the young starlets fit Rodgers system better, which features three front-men as opposed to utilising out-and-out wingers, leaving Downing out in the cold. 

Sterling's strong performances have seen him record his first Premier League goal whilst also earning his first England cap, Suso has also impressed and was rewarded with a new long-term contract by the club. Borini has been unfortunate with injuries, but when fit there's no question he'll be above Downing into the pecking order. 

Rodgers had handed Downing a handful of cup appearances this season to try and impress enough to break back into the starting eleven, either in his more natural attacking role or as a full-back, but has not done enough, and with Rodgers needing a new striker in January it's no shock to see Downing heading for the exit. 

In reality this is in the best interests of all parties. Liverpool are in need of cash to bring in players to take some of the goal scoring pressure off the shoulders of leagues leading striker Luis Suarez, whilst Downing will have grown increasingly frustrated of being left on the bench. 

And despite all that has gone on over the last sixteen months it is unfair to hold Downing back from first-team football. An underwhelming spell at Anfield doesn't discount from his previous career achievements, and with the right club and plenty of playing time Downing may well find that form which earned him a move to Liverpool in the first place. 

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