Liverpool or Spurs: Where Would Stewart Downing Further His Career Best?
Liverpool's failure to defeat Tottenham and the subsequent loss of its grasp over a Europa League sport at first would seem to have damaging repercussions towards its chances at acquiring squad-strengthening players.
After all, who would seek to further his career with a club offering no immediate prospects of playing highest-end football?
With news that players like Ashley Young were and still are being targeted by Liverpool, this notion may well ring true. The Aston Villa winger has already voiced his opinion as to wanting to play for a side that can compete in the Champions League.
A player of his quality is, of course, right to demand such a condition, as a talent that can challenge the best must not see out his career with a team that is collectively unable to do so.
Some of the attention being given to Liverpool at the prospect that Young does not venture to Anfield is being paid to another Villa player, Stewart Downing. With Villa completing a somewhat lacklustre season, achieving a top-half finish only in the dying moments, Downing is looking to take flight with a more capable and accomplished squad.
The two sides showing major interest in the England international are Kenny Dalglish and his Liverpool squad, and rivals Tottenham Hotspur, run by Harry Redknapp.
One of these sides will play European football in 2011/12, whereas the other will have only domestic titles to play for.
Whilst they may not be playing against Europe's elite as they have this season, at least their impressive debut in the Champions League will set them in good stead for the Europa League. They will go in as one of the early favourites and consequently a deep journey into the tournament could see Downing playing against sides that could give him a taste of what is to come.
Yet, Redknapp's side are not necessarily destined for future European seasons. They clung onto the fifth spot this season after Liverpool and after a formidable comeback, faded in the latter stages.
At one point Spurs had seemingly lost its top five finish and looked likely to follow up a debut season in the Champions League with only home-grown competition.
Only Arsenal above them finished the season looking even more fragile. This compels us to look at the long-term aspirations of both Liverpool and Spurs.
If Liverpool could utilise its season outside of European competition to its maximum capacity, then they themselves could pose the greater opportunity for long-term success.
There is no doubt now that under Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool side are capable of beginning the 2011/12 season in the hunt. Whilst they take no part in Europe, their sights will surely be set on claiming one of the three trophies they will be competing for.
Which Side Would Suit Downing?
And whereas Spurs may need to up their game to reclaim a top-four finish, Liverpool appear likelier to slot very comfortably in that position.
Much of Downing's decision may come down to that of teammate Ashley Young. Yet, if Young were to waver, then Downing could serve as the replacement in the faltering winger position that has plagued Liverpool.
This will subsequently strengthen Liverpool's claim to higher-placed finishes as well as a return to their many Champions League campaigns.
In conclusion, it appears that we can lean towards Downing signing with Liverpool, as it provides the greater opportunistic prospects for any player looking to gain an up-thrust towards his career.
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