LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 04: England Manager Fabio Capello sends on Stewart Downing as a substitute during the UEFA EURO 2012 group G qualifying match between England and Switzerland at Wembley Stadium on June 4, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
In news that I pray to God turns out to be true because I am already so tired of hearing about it, Mat Kendrick reports via Twtter that Alex McLeish has informed Liverpool they will not be acquiring Stewart Downing seeing as how the winger is not for sale. This is good news for those who think keeping Downing is paramount to Villa's chances at improving upon the debacle that was last season and it's also good news because oh god just make it stop I am so tired of this every summer. Here's the Tweet in question:
Of course lots of people say lots of things, especially people hoping to maximize the money coming their way in return for a valuable asset. McLeish could be deadly serious, but he could also be blowing smoke. And in reality, he's clearly blowing smoke to some extent because if Liverpool come back and offer £20 million plus Alberto Aquilani and McLeish doesn't take it I will burn his house down. There's a point at which an offer is too good to pass up; the question is whether Liverpool are willing to go that far.
I'm guessing they're not. Stewart Downing is a fine player coming off of a great season, but it's not as though Liverpool don't have other options. Manchester City were willing to pay more than James Milner was worth for reasons aside from his footballing prowess; that's not the case here. The Reds want Downing because they need a wide midfielder. There are more than a few of those kicking around.
Of course, whether Downing wishes to remain an Aston Villa player is another matter entirely. The odds are good that he would prefer to go to Liverpool, and from a career development perspective it's though to blame him. At the same time, who cares? Downing is under contract with Villa and the club are under no obligation to sell him for less than they deem his value to be. Some would say that you shouldn't make a player stay if he wants to move to a bigger club; interestingly enough, those people tend to support bigger clubs. Downing is a professional. If not getting his way in this instance is enough to ruin him as a player, he's probably better off just hanging up his boots now.
Expect Liverpool to either whine about McLeish not being reasonable or to make a stupid offer in the next few days. Expect the Mirror or the Sun to make something up. This will probably drag on for another few weeks, and hey has anyone noticed how we still haven't signed a goalkeeper?