Former England international Stewart Downing returns to Championship club Middlesbrough in a four-year deal that sees him dropping out of the Premier League. The 30-year-old player had played in the Boro squad almost 250 times during the eight years that he was a part of the club right at the beginning of his career.
Downing was not part of the Hammers side that faced Maltese club Birkirkara during the Europa League match on Thursday night. He was subsequently seen going for a medical with Middlesbrough. It is understood that Hammers manager Slaven Bilic was not keen to let the winger go because he was a major part of the team’s plans for the coming season. The winger scored seven times in his 74 appearances for the Hammers during his two seasons with them. His move to Riverside will cost the team approximately £5.5 million, although this can climb to £7 million depending on his performance.
A star graduate of the Middlesbrough Academy, Downing left the club in 2009 to join Aston Villa in a £12 million move followed by a subsequent £20 million move to Liverpool. His stint at Anfield wasn’t a major success and he was then marked down to West Ham United for a mere £5 million.
Boro manager and former member of the Spanish and then Basque football teams, Aitor Karanka, said that he was absolutely delighted to bolster his team with the England winger. Downing will fly out to join his new squad members who are going through their pre-season paces at Marbella.
Downing is believed to have taken a hit in monetary terms with his return to Boro, but he has indicated that a return to his hometown was his priority. His career will certainly get a much needed boost if he can help his club get back into the Premier League. His England career has been at a standstill and the last time he was capped by his country was last November’s friendly against Scotland. Staying back at West Ham or indeed with any other Premier League side would mean that he’d be kept at the fringes of the first squad.
Middlesbrough is indeed an exciting team to be a part of since its trajectory is clearly upwards. The second-tier Riverside team is likely to feature Downing in a prominent position as the club launches its campaign for the coming season. They have invested a surprisingly large amount of money in the player, seemingly with big plans in mind. The club suffered a 2-0 defeat against Norwich last May, enabling the winning team to get back to the Premier League.
Boro have also splurged another £3 million to bring in Uruguay International Christian Stuani from Spanish side Espanyol. The 28-year-old striker scored 10 goals for his team the last season and also took part in the recently concluded Copa America. Jonathan Woodgate, who is incidentally Downing’s brother-in-law as well, has also reconsidered his retirement plans and will rejoin the squad as they get into their training sessions in Spain.