Liverpool have been linked with the Stewart Downing since January. A lot of the complaints about us being linked with him have been down to one fact among many Reds fans: he isn’t Juan Mata . From my point of view though, the comparisons between the Spanish playmaker and the England winger are completely unfair, they are not similar styles of player at all. Mata on the one hand could only be loosely described as a winger as he prefers to play in the whole behind the strikers, while Downing has always been more comfortable down the flanks.
One of the probable reasons why Downing maybe a bigger priority for Dalglish and Comolli than Mata currently, maybe because they are looking for a more natural winger to compliment the characteristics of Andy Carroll. Of course Mata maybe a superior dribbler and has a better passing range, but I feel that Downing maybe favoured purely because he would give the team more width than Mata would.
For sure, Downing has played as a central midfield player both at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa , but you only have to look at the video footage by ElPistoleroJFT96 below to see that most of his assists last campaign came from crosses, many of which came from his weaker right foot too:
Even from a 3 minute clip, a person who hadn’t even seen the player before can see that Downing can keep genuine pace while running with the ball, can shoot and pass with either foot, and has a variety to his game which means he can provide through balls as well as being a decent crosser.
7 goals and 7 assists in a poor season for Villa, as well as the club’s player of the season award isn’t a bad case to put forward for buying the player.
The question becomes though, is he worth the £15million being suggested? With two years left on his contract, would we be just paying over the heads for an above average player?
Somebody like Mata is only valued a £3million more, and at 23, he is 3 years Downing’s junior with probably a greater amount of vision and skill on the ball. Going by the stats, Downing wasn’t fantastic at either dribbling and delivering decent crosses last season, and although he has had a very good season, is he the sort of player which will push the club up to the next level of being league contenders once again?
For many fans the answer is no, and every time I have put up a transfer rumour on this site linking the player with us, a few fans cry out at the apparent waste of money.
Still, I go back to the point I made at the top of the article. What sort of player is Kenny Dalglish looking for? He is looking for width, pace and guile to help out Andy Carroll and to give the side a different dimension, and if we do purchase Downing, it will be certain that he believes the 26 year old is the man to do that. Whether he is right, we will have to find out next season and how many assists he provides for the likes of Carroll.
Read more of David’s articles at Live4Liverpool