Why Stewart Downing is a better signing than Juan Mata

By on July 14, 2011

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I have studied a lot of comments from Liverpool fans on forums, websites, Twitter and Facebook since the end of the season, and the overwhelming conclusion is that most want Juan Mata to sign for our beloved reds. I have to ask the question: WHY?

At 23 years old and with 129 appearances and 33 goals (goals to game ratio 0.25) for Valencia under his belt, Mata has already proven to the world his ability to compete at the highest level. After back-to-back summers in which Mata picked up the 2010 World Cup and the European Under-21 Championship titles, the forward is viewed as one of the hottest prospects in world football.

Beginning his youth career with Oviedo, he moved to Real Madrid’s academy at the age of 15 and spent three years there and was promoted to the Castilla team in 2006-07, relegation followed and he was allowed to leave for Los Che. Oozing with pace and a direct style that sends a shiver down the spines of defenders, Los Che got themselves a bargain and it was not long before he was making his mark on La Liga.

His attacking role on the flank helped Valencia to the Copa del Rey trophy in 2007-08. Mata is technically gifted, his close control and vision are excellent and he has the ability to beat his man and set up chances within the blink of an eye. He is however Lightweight and lacks power, he can be shrugged off the ball too which is why i have doubts on his ability to perform in the premier league.

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51 Comments

  1. mitch

    July 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    that article is a huge mare

  2. SuaRed

    July 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    what are you smoking????

  3. Dunc

    July 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Spot on article. Mata is comparible Suarez and we already have one of those.

  4. Alan

    July 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    If Hodgson has spent so much money on Henderson, Adam and Downing we would all be flabergasted. We all remember where vastly overpaying for Robbie Keane got us.

    HOWEVER, we know the KING has won the Premier League, we know he can get the best out of British players and we know he has a plan to get top results. We may not play classy football with Downing etc.. but we should get good results.

    I have faith in Kenny. So I trust his judgement.

  5. Saeed Baopoo

    July 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I agree with you. Downing is a better choice for the team although the price of 20m seems too high. To get the best of Carroll you need someone with ability to send quality crosses which downing is as good any at the moment.

    • Horace

      October 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

      Rubbish, Downing crosses from to far back which is no good fr a centre-forward, he can’t beat a man on the outside and cross from the bye-line. An average player who you vastly over-payed for. I must say delusional Liverpool fans are hilarious.

  6. Rashid

    July 14, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    A total embarassment – akin to the days of Houllier when people were convincing themselves that Salif Diao was as good as Vieira and Danny Murphy the new Platini. I don’t see the need or logic in convincing ourselves that “we have done ok”.

    I still remember the hideous posts saluting Gillett and Hicks only 4 years. Downing is average and hugely overprices, you won’t be called disloyal by saying so.

  7. Andreas

    July 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    “…because he’s English” Haha!! Oh yes, the Engrish are world beaters…

  8. Dhanushka

    July 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Since August 2004 only 4 players have created more goal scoring opportunity than Downing: Gerrard, Lampard, Fabregas and Giggs.

  9. Tony

    July 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    4th) Downing
    5th) Henderson
    6th) Adam

    Only 3 players in the Premier League created more chances than our 3 signings last season, Opta state the facts. That is why they are at Liverpool…….nuff said!!!

    • Horace

      October 27, 2011 at 10:33 am

      And they can’t defend, nuff said.

  10. corballyred

    July 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Ha ha over rated, I’ve a funny feeling reading this you’ve never seen Mata play in Spain.

    Interesting fact for you and others to digest Mata created the 4th highest number of chances in La Liga last season that is including Barc and Real players.

    Lightweight and easily pushed off the ball, um interesting Downing can be a decent signing for Liverpool but we stop need to stop living in cuckoo landing and thinking there is no one better than the players we signed.

    Mata is better than Downing really think anyone that thinks otherwise obviously hasn’t watched both players playing

  11. The Rock

    July 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    The rock says, Tony that was a great post. I didn’t know that.

  12. The Rock

    July 14, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Mata plays a lot more centrally than Downing. I am yet to see him cross the ball for club or country because he’s always in the ‘hole’. If its Jason Wilcox style crossing we want Downing is our man. Kenny wrote a blueprint for premiership success at Blackburn that he is now following to the letter.

  13. 'Will

    July 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    @ Dunc
    Funniest stupid comment on Internet today mate.

    Yeah the last thing we’d want is another player comparable to Suarez…

    Him being by far our best player n all!

  14. JDanny

    July 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Absolutely agree. Having spent 35 mil on Carroll, its clear he will be a starter, and to get the most out of him we need Downing’s crossing abilities. All the Mata lovers are missing the point. Yes he is an excellent player, but his style is not what LFC are looking for right now. We need a consistent and precise crosser. Mata cuts into the midfield for a shot on goal, whereas Downing goes wide for the cross.

  15. m kop

    July 14, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    So you basically described Theo Walcott. Would we want to trade Downing for Walcott for 5 mil.?
    Only, Mata is better than Walcott, more consistent, better finisher and overall a better player.

    Now tell us how it is good that we have not signed David Silva when Rafa wanted him but money was unavailable.
    Tell us about how it is a good thing he plays for City now.

  16. Dunc

    July 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    @ Will

    Welcome back Mr Ardiles. We’ve missed your stlye of football.

  17. Gerrardious

    July 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Am sick of having to comment about this whole Mata-Downing bulls*hit. just keep dis in mind.
    1)Mata is NOT a winger
    2) Mata is not the only alternative in the world(in case most of u have forgotten)
    3) Mata is light weight n small and would be a big gamble in this crucial time of our history. (I say this fully admitting the fact that he is world class).
    4)Statistics dont lie. Downing is Premiership Proven. Mata is not.
    Downing is(or will soon be) a Liverpool player. deal with it.
    Give him ur full support n stop slashin him b4 he even gets to play. jeez

  18. Steven

    July 14, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Downing is not half the player Mata is. Again the club is paying more than double what a player is worth because prices in England are over inflated. There better be enough money left to bring in another defender.

  19. Desy

    July 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I think Dunc is saying that why should we pay £23M for a player who plays in largely the same position as Suarez? It’s quite simple: f we don’t get real width in the side the players will just go down the middle and will be easy to defend against. Eventually we’ll end up hoofing the ball to Andy Carroll for knock downs to centralised ‘wide’ midfielders. Downing gives us variation in our play that allows us to go down the middle with Suarez and Gerard or wide with Downing to Carroll with Adam pulling the strings and acting as the brains of the side. We’ve had too many wide players that keep coming inside (Riera, Kewell, Babel, Pennant, benayoun, Cole, Maxi etc etc). The fact is that Downing and Mata are apples and oranges and I would argue that we need a player like Downing more so than we need Mata. Bottom line is that we need crosses and downing provides that not Mata.

  20. jonnysingapore

    July 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    service service service.

    KK wants service to the front guys, ably supported by an advancing unit.

    the rear and central players are going to have many targets now. Not just Carroll, but Suarez, Downing, and a midfielder if its a defender bringing the ball forward.

    Adam is supposed to provide vision in passing as will Gerrard to keep the momentum going forward. Lucas may well benefit as he will have lots of options to push the ball forward to so his passing game may see some good development.

    If KK and SC get the team work sorted out with a good understanding between players – and lets face it, they did an impressive job of it last season – then lfc will look an efficient and impressive team that puts opponents on the back foot and exploits errors in defences.

    Can’t wait. the hull and valencia games are going to be really good to watch aswell. They’ll have to be pretty sorted to play valencia.

  21. Jacklad99

    July 14, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    I’m not saying downing isn’t a bad player , he’s just not worth 20m 95 m spent on aqualani, caroll, Henderson, and downing , doesn’t really do it for me probably 50m to much

  22. frank

    July 14, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    You chaps kept on comparing Downing vs Mata. Well, since have Downing in the bag, and not Mata, just be satisfied that we have the player that KK wants. Stop commenting and complaining. Let’s wait for the results.

  23. Desy

    July 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I understand that way of thinking but honestly who cares? For instance the Suarez and Carroll fees are negligible as they were offset by the Torres and Babel fees. So essentially they’re just numbers. The important thing is that we have a varied, young, talented team to compete in the Premiership next year. The figures are FSG’s concern and if they are happy with it then so am I.

  24. kkkersh

    July 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    yor all goin on about mata. how the fuck do any of you lot know better than kk wot this team needs,hes lookin everyday a wot this team needs to succeed, so you should get on with yor jobs an leave kenny to his, nuff said

  25. Boneyjoe69

    July 14, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Are you having a laugh? Downing better signing that Mata? Come on get real, Mata is 10 times the player Downing is, Downing isn’t worth 10m let alone 20m, typical Liverpool response to a player they haven’t signed in Mata

  26. anthony

    July 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    mata is a much better player,better investment 4yrs younger…when are you going to get it through your thick skull

  27. Red78

    July 14, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Mata is a world class player and Stuart Downing is a substitute in a poor England set up. Let’s face it, we got over excited thinking Mata would come but that’s no need to start bullish*tin saying Downing is better than Mata do u watch football ?

  28. Tony

    July 14, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Can i point out that Downing was named players player and fans player of the year, when he played on the right wing at Villa. He is a left-winger who happens to be genuinely two-footed, this highlights how talented he is, Opta also show that he put in the most crosses from open play (135) and the 2nd most overall in the Premier League…….how people can still moan defies belief, I believe the younger Liverpool fans are very uninformed and need to stop reading about the latest name from Europe!!!!!!Kenny always has avoided foreigners if possible!!!!

  29. m kop

    July 14, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    @ Tony
    We would so want you to be right. We all would.

  30. Aussie red

    July 15, 2011 at 12:07 am

    In Kenny I trust we are building a champion team that will bleed for the shirt not a team of prima donna’s that will missing when the pressure is on! YNWA

  31. Gerrardious

    July 15, 2011 at 1:45 am

    for f*ck’s sake, Downing and Mata are not the only two left wing players in the world.

  32. Jeff

    July 15, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Fek me! I agree 100% with this article, and I really question peoplepeople’s footballing knowledge, for not bebeing able to get their heads around this! So I’ll try and make it simple for the so called experts on here! I not saying that downing is a better player than mata, or vice versa! They completecompletely different sorts of players! Fact 1! Downing is an out and out winger, who will keep the natural width of our team – mata isn’t, and will cut inside into a contested midfield. Fact 2! Downing will provide excellent crosses into the box,which is essential to get the best out of our carroll, mata won’t! What is the point of signing him, if we don’t play to his strengths? Fact 3!downing is a proven prem pla,yer, he will come straight into our team, and be an instant succeess! Mata may need 6 months, maybe even a full year, he might never adapt! We need instant succeess in this position, if we are to get bk into the top four! Even after all this, i for one, don’t think that mata is interested in coming to our club, whereas downing is very passionate about coming to play for us! And I’m sure he’ll put his all into every game! I for one, think this signing is a no brainer! And if people stopped and thought about it for more than two minutes, they’d also realise, instead of coming on here, hearing mata’s name mentioned a few times, then all jump on the bandwagon like a bunch of sheep, chanting some name, just for namesake, thinking they know better than kenny, what the team needs!

  33. Darren

    July 15, 2011 at 3:20 am

    I agree with Jim on that some people’s footballing knowledge on here is very questionable.

    I’ve just read the top 4 or title challenge blog and some manc called Ben commented and as usual glory hunting mancs, he knew nothing about football but then I come and read this blog and I cant believe some of the things being said.

    First point is that for one Downing will be a Liverpool player next season mata probably won’t ( I say probably because I like any fan would want him here but can’t see it especially now we will have Downing and a LB is a bigger priority ). So give him a chance!

    Second point is that Downing is defiantly worth 15 million! So taking into consideration that he was Villa’s fans and players player of the year with two years left on his contract and contracted to a club who didn’t want to or have to sell him, So paying an extra 5 million for him ain’t that bad!

    Third point is not really a point it’s abit of advice for them who think Downing is average at best! Before you start saying a player is rubbish go and do some research first as you clearly don’t know your football. Opta stats don’t lie! And if you look at what people in the game think of him and if they think he’s a good signing or not you’ll see that he is highly rated, not as a world class player but as a proven prem player who is consistent and who gives natural width!

    One last thing! Henderson Carroll Adams Downing would have been welcomed with any manager in charge as there very good players! as are any other very good players! The fees for Carroll and Henderson are overpriced but that’s just the way the market is at the moment, you pay for the potential as well when buying young players, especially english ones. They will both earn there fees back for the club overtime!

  34. Gavin

    July 15, 2011 at 3:38 am

    I’m not sure if you are bothered about my view as I actually support Valencia and not Liverpool.

    It is interesting that you mentioned the goals per game ratio but not the assists. In 309 games Stuart Downing has 32 assists, Juan Mata has in 208 games has 58 assists.
    I think you kind of miss the point that Mata is more famous for his assists than goals. You are quite right though that he is not a winger, these were passes not crosses.

    You probably should have bought Pablo Hernadez if you wanted crosses, he is cheaper and better than Downing, or from Real Madrid Pedro Leon. Downing at his best is very good but he is very inconsistent.

    Valencia despite press reports no longer need to sell. The debt is 368m Euros ( without the sale of the Mestalla which is on hold because of the economy of Spain) but the interest is only 15m Euros per season. They clear this easily.

    Having said that Mata does one day want to move on that is a fact. However, it is known that his top choices are Barcelona and then Manchester United. Also this is unlikely to happen this season. He is very keen to see this season out as Valencia have largely been spending rather than selling and have their best squad for a while.

    Liverpool do look like they are a side on the up again. If they qualify for the Champions League this season they I am sure could be tempting for him. But this season a move was never on, it was just a rumour largely reinforced by the friendly that has been arranged. David Silva was sold with a similar friendly arrangement.

    Lastly I think you possibly underestimate the quality of La Liga. Virtually all of Spain’s World Cup and U21 squad play in Spain, as do Messi,Ronaldo, Aguero, Rossi etc.

    Anyway good luck for the season, it would be refreshing to see you back at the top.

  35. sneh

    July 15, 2011 at 5:12 am

    finally a sensible article!!was waiting for this since a long time.forget about mata guys,downing is way better than him in terms of movement and crosses,nd what if mata is not able to adapt to the english game,i dont think v want another aquilani in out squad.nicely written man!!YNWA

  36. zac

    July 15, 2011 at 6:37 am

    MATA is the man of top quality..not Downing cuse he’ll make liverpool go ‘down’.

  37. Anthony

    July 15, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Downing is much better only because he know’s the premier league and we can expect him to perform under those circumstances. He know all about the league and the pace of the league.

    Mata is a good player, but we dunno does he fit the bill. We can’t gamble on this matter. We can gamble more on downing as he prove to be able to play in the league. But the value of the gamble is the question to ask.. is 20million pound worth it.

    If you talking about players. Downing is better signing than Mata. If you talking about money worth spending, that’s another thing.

    Watch this! (What happen when Man Utd Fan wearing Man Utd Jersey to a Liverpool Training Match in Malaysia)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwR8YTqA3Cs

    “Stand Up if you hate Man Utd” – just making a point the intensity of rivalry is shown around the world.
    YNWA Malaysia!

  38. emmy

    July 15, 2011 at 8:21 am

    All we need is winger cabale of crossinq for our strikers to score goals..as we’re all aware that carrol is better in the air than feet,why spending such amount on a prem novice, a winger who won’t make the needed crosses but rather play like our suarez,y’all knw the type of football he plays….downing is mostly welcome to the kop than mata….therefore let us leave the comparation, mata is better than downing but downing is a better choice for liverpool than mata……good job KK and DC..one more left and centre back and a striker..leigton baines and roux is O.K…
    Y*N*W*A

  39. m kop

    July 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Liverpool has Suarez not just Carroll.
    Who was better player for Liverpool last season, Carroll or Suarez?

    I would like Liverpool to sign Jeffren as it would give them some options. N’Zogbia would also be good, but more expensive.

    Having played really well for one PL team doesn’t make you a sure thing in another team. Especially if moving in a bigger team.
    We have seen Keane in Liverpool, Bently in Tottenham, so many players in City. Maybe City doesn’t give players enough chance but still…
    Playing well for one team in PL doesn’t mean you will be as good in another team. Even Torres played poorly.

    Downing can turn out to be another Pennant only much more expensive. We dont know what will happen.

    Having that in mind I would rather risk with a younger player who can recoup some of money being invested on him.

    Anyone would tell you Mata simply is a better player but I do hope Downing works out well for Liverpool, CL comeback depends on it!

  40. Dave

    July 16, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Great article I fully agree I would have downing over mata any day for the reasons above and the fact that downing is a out and out winger who at last will give us much need width and he can cross ball excellent just what is needed for Andy who is the best header in the league and for everyone else aswell great signing

  41. ray tait

    July 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    i would have been happy with either player. they are both brilliant and would fix our problem. what i dont understand is why people are whining about how much liverpool is paying for the players. i honestly think that it doesnt matter how much liverpool pays because that none of our business. i have confidence that all of the players we signed are going to do well so we shouldnt judge them yet by how much we payed.

  42. Eddy

    July 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

    95% of everyone commenting on how Downing is crap Mata is the man blablabla, are kids who are brainwashed by video games.
    Downing is a winger, someone who hugs the touchline and puts in quality crosses and provided 132 clear cut chances last season. THAT, is what we need.
    Mata, however, is an attacking midfielder, the kind of player who stays in the hole and gets into the area, very similar to Suarez. NOT, what we need. Sure i’d love to have him at Liverpool, but not for another 2-3 years. Opta facts don’t lie, and the facts are, Downing is proven in the prem and created one of the most chances in the prem last season, Mata At this stage, this is the best signing we could make.

    • Dipper

      February 12, 2012 at 7:03 am

      I wonder who are the kids brainwashed by video games now.Lol

  43. Dipper

    November 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    LOL.how silly does this article make you look now?Downing not even worth have of what was paid for.Downing puts in crosses and blah blah blah.Zero assists and zero goals so far.Stats speaks for themselves.

  44. Nathan

    November 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    John Weatherall, you know sweet FA about football.

  45. Nicky

    January 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Do you all still think Downing is better now, I would give it to Mata…

    Nicky…

  46. benny

    January 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Mata: 18 games, 4 goals and 7 assists
    Downing: 20 games, 0 goals and 0 assists

    Oh dear!

  47. Arthur

    January 16, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    What a poor article…
    The only argument you bring is, that Downing played in the premier league, so its normal that he is worse then Mata…
    Mata is a world class player, Downing is an average player.
    Downing 21 Games 0.0 ratio and now?

  48. Bindipping

    March 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Lol at the deluded author.You know sweet FA about football.go dip in the bins ya bin dipper!

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