Liverpool have today confirmed that Stewart Downing's rumoured £6M switch to West Ham United has been finalised, with Sam Allardyce bringing the winger to London to reunite with former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll and signalling the end to a largely unsuccessful two year spell at Anfield for the Middlesbrough youth product.
Downing made 65 appearances in the league for Liverpool after arriving for £20M in the summer of 2011 along with a group of transfer targets that included Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, and Sebastian Coates that has to date proven—and would now seem certain to remain—exceptionally poor value for the club.
At 29 years of age and on £80k a week, Downing's improvement under Brendan Rodgers in the second half of the 2012-13 campaign was enough to at least make him seem a useful squad player—albeit a useful squad player making a starter's wage packet. With two seasons left on his Liverpool contract, though, it was also likely the last opportunity for Liverpool to manage any kind of return on their initial investment.
The £6M fee may seem paltry to some, especially after the club shelled out nearer £20M on the player. Yet two years on the fringes at Anfield with only three league goals to show for it and when next summer would have seen a 30-year-old Downing with only one year remaining on his contract, Liverpool were never in a position to demand the £10M+ fee many fans hoped they would.
However, Downing's sale does suggest at least one more attacking signing is imminent for Liverpool, especially as it comes on the back of Brendan Rodgers insisting that reinforcements are on the way.
"I think for us now, that little bit of quality could really set us up for an exciting season," was Rodgers' take prior to the Downing sale. "Everyone at the club, the recruitment team, the board and ourselves, we are all working hard to make that happen, and hopefully we can."
With any deal for Atletico Madrid's wide attacker Diego Costa appearing to have been quashed by the striker's recent signing of a new deal to keep him at the Spanish capital's second side, just who that little bit of quality Rodgers is after to replace Downing with may not be sorted until closer to the end of August. After the drama of Rodgers' first transfer window, though, Liverpool fans will be hoping this time around the club hasn't sold a potentially useful squad player to chase after an improvement that never arrives.
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