Downing had an almost decade-long career behind him: He was an established member of the England squad, and he was coming off the best season of his career. It seemed like he was finally ready to prove himself at a top club after initially displaying great talent at Middlesbrough in the early '00s and then progressing further with Villa.
He had made his breakthrough at Middlesbrough during the 2001-02 season and finally became a regular at his boyhood club in 2003. He quickly gained acclaim for his cultured left foot and old-fashioned wing play, something people had long claimed the English national team was crying out for.
He made his international debut in 2005 and became a squad regular in 2006, something he has generally been since barring injury.
He stayed at Middlesbrough until 2009 when Martin O'Neill splashed £12 million to bring him to Aston Villa. This was seen as a step up for Downing as Villa were generally seen as a team who were building towards challenging for the top four. Unfortunately for Downing and Villa, it didn't work out that way and a real run at the top four was never forthcoming.
Downing spent two years with the Birmingham-based club before Liverpool came calling for him. He forced the move through when Villa seemed determined to keep him and signed on the dotted line on 15 July 2011.
Obviously things have not worked out for Downing since, and his days at Liverpool appear to be numbered as he has gone from first-choice winger in the opening league match of this season to not even making the bench for the latest match against Stoke.
Downing's fall from grace has been gradual as he had a desperately disappointing season last year and generally lost the backing of most Liverpool fans. Things have not improved in any way this season, and he now finds himself staring at the Anfield exit sign.
There are many reasons that can explain why Downing has flopped at Liverpool; here are four of them.