Stewart Downing; Admittedly of all the wingers we were linked with, he was not my number one, or two, or even three. That end of season goal against us aside, he never really and truly impressed me as a Villa or even an England player, let alone good enough to pull on a red shirt in a team we want to see challenging for major honours.
So for £12million, hmm, a bit steep, £15million? Do me a favour, surely a smokescreen to get Mata? £20million, blimy. This fella must be something special?!?! So what has convinced the board to delve deep once again?
1. Downing is English. Fits in perfectly with the new ‘home grown’ rules for both Premiership and European regulations.
2. He’s an international. Regardless what you think of the national team, he has had exposure against some top players and did ok.
3. He’s young enough (27 next week), to have a reasonable resale value should he not settle.
4. He has had years of Premiership experience.
5. He has ‘friends’ in England teammates; Gerrard, Carragher, Carroll, Johnson.
6. He is consistent in his performances. Carroll needs a supply from more than one or two sources.
7. He doesn’t get injured, much. Hopefully it isn’t the kiss of death for him but he obviously looks after himself.
8. Aston Villa’s 2010/11 player of the year.
But it is amongst the murky world of the, (hated by me), Opta index, and Damien Comolli’s statistics that we can really see where Downing comes into his own.
So what about Downing statistics? The Opta index certainly makes for good reading. Downing has averaged well over 30 appearances in the last 5 seasons. He has also managed to complete 135 successful crosses in the last 3 seasons. That’s more than any other player in the league. Only four players, some of the best ever Premier League midfielders, (Stevie G, Giggs, Fabregas and Lampard) have created more Premier League chances than Downing since 2004.
Comolli’s influence is hard to quantify, but the first signing of Luis Suarez wasn’t too bad was it! The way forward with new transfers it would seem is the statistical influence of the player.
I’ve always tried to give every Liverpool player a decent go of it. Remember that Jamie Carragher was getting some stick not so long ago, (unheard of now). Downing may not have enthralled me in the past, despite being their player of the year, but he was a Villa player then, he’s a Redman now and with no disrespect to Villa, a bigger stage with hopefully Champions League football to showcase his talents.
Kenny perhaps see’s Downing’s league experience to bring on the raw talent of Jack Robinson on an all new Liverpool left side. That is unless we are to strengthen in that area also (Aly Cissoko/Jose Enrique?). Downing, with a £20 million price tag, like Jordan Henderson will be under pressure by many to justify the outlay, but if he can replicate his Villa stats on the fields of Anfield Road, then he will most certainly become a big fan favourite.