8m bid for Downing

Last updated : 13 January 2008 By Gareth Davies
Middlesbrough are considering an £8m offer from Tottenham for Stuart Downing. The winger, who has been a long term target for the club, is believed to be frustrated with the lack of progress regarding a new contract and despite rejecting our advances over the past couple of seasons, it is believed he is now open to a move to White Hart Lane. The offer comes after Gus Poyet was quoted as saying that Downing was a 'great player' who he would 'love to see at the club'.

As regards to whether Downing is the player we need to fill the fabled berth on the left-side of midfield, opinion seems split. On the one hand he has a good left foot, is adept from set pieces and his crossing is generally very good. On the other, he certainly isn't a signing to catch the imagination of the fans, his performances for England were average at best and some would say he lacks the guile and pace to beat his man and create chances against top defenders.

For the most part the negativity surrounding his potential signing can be attributed to snobbery amongst the club support, who feel that the club can 'do better'. Whether this is true or just another product of the unrealistic opinion some fans of the stature of the club is a matter of opinion but the fact is, other than the injured Gareth Bale, we don't have any other left footed player in the starting XI. This can leave the side unbalanced overly narrow, a problem that he addition of Downing would go someway to curing.

On the subject of Bale, I think my own personal doubts over Downing are two fold. One I don't particularly rate him (though I don't believe he is a bad player) and, two, If it were a straight choice between Bale and Downing on the left side of midfield, I'd choose the Welshman every time. In the handful of games he has made since joining us, Bale has been excellent, with his tenacity and ability clear for all to see. His performances have been at such a standard that have made the £10m we paid for him seem like good business, whereas £8m for Downing could be construed as a bit of a gamble.

There are yet further questions. It is clear that Downing has been a long term target of the club, and, in particular, Damien Comolli. Now, I'm not sure whether it's just me, or does this set alarm bells ringing regarding our transfer policy (yet again). I doubt there is anyone who believes Ramos has pinpointed Downing as an ideal acquisition so we are back to the same issue regarding who buys the players and who picks the team. Is Ramos going to get a call on this mobile tomorrow morning, or turn on Sky Sports News, to be told we've signed some English winger called Downing. One has a terrible feeling that his response might be Spanish for 'who?' (much the same as his response when asked about Alan Hutton).

Personally I still harbour deep misgivings about adopting such a transfer policy. If given his way I firmly believe Ramos would look to Spain to bring in players to shape the team to his liking. Would he be looking at Downing? No I don't think so. Has Comolli proved he can cut it by bringing in undiscovered talent, excellent bargains or world class players - no. So why should he continue to have what seems to be the key say on who joins the club? I doubt I'm the only one worried that this man seems to have a monopoly on the clubs purse strings.

I may be wrong and perhaps Ramos has pinpointed Downing as a player he wants. If he does join the club it's important the fans get behind him and don't turn him into a scapegoat for the poor performances, as fans, including me, were quick to do to Jermaine Jenas or Younes Kaboul. No that we'll know whether any of this is relevant anytime soon. Middlesbrough are in a strong bargaining position and are likely to reject, offhand, our bid whilst it remains in below £10m. Unless Downing comes out and says he wants to go, Gareth Southgate has no reason to sell, unless of course he feels it is time to cash in on his prize asset and invest the proceeds in an attempt to stay in the Premier League.