West Ham United have signed winger Stewart Downing from Liverpool.
Downing joins the Hammers on a four year deal for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of $7.7 million (£5m). At Upton Park the 29 year old England international will look to turn the tables on a career that was derailed after his move to Anfield in July 2011.
After enjoying a steady rise at Middlesbrough that earned him a spot on the national side, Downing’s career exploded when he moved to Aston Villa. At Villa Park, his boundless energy, skill, crossing ability and eagerness to run at defenses earned him the 2010-11 Player of the Year award for the Villains.
It was then that Liverpool made their fated $31 million (£20m) move for Downing, bringing him to Anfield to become part of the Fenway Sports Group’s new class of players. Along with Andy Carroll and Jordan Henderson, however, Downing’s career hit the skids when his 2011-12 season was defined by 36 anemic league performances that resulted in zero goals and zero assists.
Downing worked hard to improve himself in 2012-13 and, to be fair, did well to register three goals and five assists in 29 league matches. But the criticism far outweighed the compliments and the writing was on the wall that the winger would soon be on his way out.
Despite the shadows creeping Downing spoke earlier this summer of his desire to fight for his place in the increasingly crowded Liverpool midfield. Those shouts fell on dull ears. So, with Liverpool eager to move on and with Downing looking to secure a spot on the England World Cup team, Liverpool and West Ham managed to finalize what appears to be a mutually beneficial deal.
For Liverpool, they salvage $7.7 million (£5m) on a player who would merely have occupied space on their bench. Yes, the $23.2 million (£15m) loss they take on Downing will sting a bit but at some point a club simply has to cut its losses.
For West Ham, they snap up a player who is eager to prove himself and should slide into the starting role on the right wing. With Matthew Jarvis – a similarly skillful winger who likes to cross and also take defenders on – on the left wing and Downing on the right, opposing defenses will have their ears pinned back facing the West Ham attack. Factor in that Downing’s former Liverpool teammate Andy Carroll is leading the line and West Ham may have just added the last piece to what could be a potent attack.
With Carroll moving to Upton Park for $26.3 million (£17m) and Downing doing so for $7.7 million (£5m), West Ham have spent a total of $34 million (£22m) on two players who cost a combined $85 million (£55m) when they went to Anfield.
What’s that old saying about trash and treasure?