According to the reports from Birmingham Live, Rangers are eyeing up a move for former England international Stewart Downing. The winger currently plies his trade in the Championship for Middlesbrough. The winger was team-mates with Steven Gerrard at Liverpool for a brief while.
Downing is currently in the final few months of his contract with the Teessiders and as things stand, he will be a free agent in the summer. However, there is a clause in his current contract where if he starts another game for Middlesbrough, a year-long extension would be triggered. It seems likely that the club is unwilling to trigger such an extension as Downing last started a game in December and since then, he has only been making substitute appearances.
Therefore that is a clear indication that Boro are unwilling to have Downing at their club for another year and Rangers are in line to pounce on this free agent. The winger has come up from Middlesbrough’s academy, and this is the second spell for the 35 time England international at the Riverside stadium.
Downing has the experience of making over 400 appearances in the English top flight, and he remains a crucial member for Boro even at the age of 34. However, his form in terms of attacking return isn’t much to talk about as he has managed just two goals in the Championship this season.
He would be 35 in July, and even though he is a free agent, Rangers have plenty of cover in the wide areas of the pitch. Downing is predominantly a left winger, but his versatility allows him to be used almost anywhere across the pitch. Therefore maybe Gerrard is eyeing him as a utility player for the next season. As an outright winger, Downing doesn’t seem to be good enough at the moment.
The club have the likes of Eros Grezda, Daniel Candeias and Glenn Middleton at their disposal. Ryan Kent is currently just on loan. Jamie Murphy would be back in contention once he becomes hundred per cent fit and the Bears have already signed Jordan Jones on a pre-contract deal in January.
They are also being heavily linked with a move for highly-rated Motherwell winger Jake Hastie. Therefore with so many options, Gerrard would be better off not signing someone like Downing who is going to be 35 soon and is already past his prime. Yes, he might still be able to do a job given his impressive work rate and experience, but with so many players already vying for that winger’s spot, Downing’s signing would be unnecessary.