With five days now before Liverpool welcome Stoke and their traveling horde of hunter-gatherers to the away end at Anfield, there's some last-minute preparations to get settled--today's closed-doors friendly is ostensibly to get another chance at a competitive-lite environment for Daniel Sturridge, who seems to be close to match fitness, and for Brendan Rodgers to get a look at something close to the eleven that we'll see on Saturday. Developments overnight mean that we can rule Stewart Downing out of that probable eleven, as the much-maligned winger has agreed personal terms with West Ham and is set to complete (or already has completed) a medical with the London club today.
There had been some question as to whether or not the player would agree to a move, but The Liverpool Echo is reporting that the deal has finally pushed through, with Downing told by Rodgers that he wouldn't have a spot in the squad moving forward. His Liverpool career is not one that will be remembered fondly, and thankfully there's been enough exit talk to this point that we can use whatever posts that have run already as a eulogy of sorts.
I doubt many will be queueing up to offer a heartfelt sendoff, but I think it is worth lauding his continued--albeit unsuccessful--attempts to stay and fight for a spot at the club. Much in the same vein as Andy Carroll, Downing couldn't find any sort of consistency during his time with the club, and given the manner in which he arrived, he was always going to need to produce. That never happened, even during a slightly improved 2012-2013 campaign, and his departure signals a further trimming of the wage bill.
It also trims the squad numbers down to a concerning level; Downing wasn't going to be a regular starter with everyone at full fitness, but he could at least fill a gap up front or, in an emergency, at left-back. To this point there have been zero additions made in either of those spots, with many hopeful that Iago Aspas will feature on the right but little evidence of late to suggest that will be the case. It could very well end up that way, especially with Sturridge back, though there's uncertainty as to the who and the how.
Official confirmation from the clubs hasn't arrived yet, but all signs point to Liverpool and Stewart Downing parting ways for good. Best of luck to him in London.