Where next for Stewart Downing? Five options for the Liverpool outcast

O'Neill And Sunderland

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers seems set to let the England winger leave Anfield in order to trim the wage bill. Could Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Stoke City, West Ham United or a move abroad tempt the Merseyside misfit?

In one of the least surprising transfer stories to emanate from the Premier League in recent weeks it has emerged that Liverpool are more than happy to allow Stewart Downing to leave the club in January. Some reports indicate that the club would be willing to let the former Aston Villa winger leave the club for a pittance compared to the £20million splurged on his signature 16 months ago, one newspaper report even claims they could let him leave for free.

Rodgers has been trying to trim a large wage-bill since he arrived at the club and the £70k-a-week being paid to Downing is now his priority clearance. It will come as music to the ears for many a Liverpool fan who watched the England wide-man fail to score a single Premier League goal; or set one up since his arrival.

So where next for Downing?

Stoke City

A few sources have attached an interest in Downing from Tony Pulis’s Stoke City side but considering their propensity to deliver crosses and the height and aerial ability of their frontmen this is perhaps an unsurprising and tentative link. He would go into competition with Michael Kightly and Matthew Etherington and after the recent loan expulsion for Jermaine Pennant at Wolves there may be room for him to join former team-mates Charlie Adam and Robert Huth at the Britannia.

West Ham

Big Sam has a good track record for getting players careers back on track. Just ask Jay-Jay Okocha, Nicolas Anelka or Youri Djorkaeff so there is no doubt he might fancy a punt on the wide-man. He should be able to fit into the style of play at West Ham this season and would provide him with another opportunity to try and make a combination with Andy Carroll work.

Middlesbrough

If he is available on a free transfer then Tony Mowbray may be able to convince him to return to his hometown club where he once enjoyed such success. His wages may be a stumbling block but Boro managed to convince Jonathan Woodgate to return home this summer and should not be discounted in this transfer battle.

Sunderland

While a Middlesbrough lad and former player a move to link-up with former Villa gaffer Martin O’Neill close to his hometown would be a difficult proposition for Downing to turn down. Again there might be an issue with his wages but with worries over the form and mentality of James McLean the addition of Downing on a cut-price deal may just appeal to O’Neill.

FC Twente

A howitzer of a call but recently more and more Brits have decided to make the move abroad with David Bentley a prime example currently on loan at Russian side FC Rostov. So why FC Twente? Well Steve McClaren of course. He is currently in trouble at FC Twente after they were dumped out of the Dutch cup to FC Den Bosch. Since then they have improved and there is no doubt that under McClaren the winger played some of the best football in his career so could he make a move to the Eredivisie?

Where do you think Stewart Downing will be playing his football come January?

image: © vagueonthehow

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