Under-rated Downing Could Be The Player Liverpool Fans Have Been Crying Out For
Liverpool have completed their third major signing of the transfer window with the £20 million acquisition of Stewart Downing from Aston Villa. While we’ve definitely payed way over the odds, again, Downing may well be the wide player Liverpool fans have been longing for and it’s becoming clearer by the day Dalglish sees English talent as the way back to the top.
While Downing’s signing has been met with a mixed reception and a few raised eyebrows, there are some, myself included, who are genuinely excited about his arrival.
I have to admit I’ve always been a bit of a fan. He’s been one of the most underrated wide men in the premier league for quite some time now and Liverpool have at last filled one of their weakest positions in recent years.
Downing was Aston Villa’s best player last season. In the interest of our new owners and their ‘Moneyball’ approach to the game let’s take a look at some statistics to see what we’ve bought ourselves.
Firstly, and this is an important point, Downing started 38 games last season. That wasn’t a fluke either, over the last five seasons Downing has averaged 34.4 premier league appearances. Liverpool have been cursed with unreliable players for a long time now so if we’re serious about a return to the top four we need players reporting for duty week in, week out.
Something that’s been a theme among our transfers so far and something that is positive about Downing is his chance creation stats. He created a total of 77 chances last season, including seven assists. To give you some perspective Kuyt created 35 chances including seven assists and David Silva created 73 including seven assists.
Another of Dalglish’s major signings of the Summer – Jordan Henderson – also created a large amount of chances (110). Clearly, it seems Commoli and Dalglish have identified chance creation as a key factor in their signings.
Probably the biggest reason for his signing, and what Liverpool have lacked for so long, is Downing’s ability to cross the football. This is what he is known for and for good reason. Downing put in 135 crosses last season, more than anyone else in the premier league.
His crossing accuracy might seem low at 24 per cent but it’s in the same range as other players in the premier league and you would only expect that number to rise with Andy Carroll’s huge frame to aim at.
A lot of fans seem disappointed that it’s Downing and not Juan Mata that Liverpool have signed and although Downing will never have the Spanish flair or silky tricks he is still a very good and extremely underrated footballer.
At 26 he’s just entering the peak of his career, he’s left footed, quick, a good crosser and can play on the right or the left. Those are hardly attributes to complain about and Liverpool have been crying out for someone like that for years as Jamie Carragher recently pointed out.
I’m not going to sit here and argue that Downing is worth the reported £20 million we payed for him, because he’s not, but the fact of the matter is, when you shop for good English players, you pay inflated prices.
The argument of a lot of fans is that the close to £50 million Kenny Dalglish has spent this Summer could’ve been spent much more wisely had the club shopped in Europe or elsewhere, and that’s something I can understand.
However, shopping locally will have its benefits too. In Henderson and Downing, and to some extent Adam, Liverpool have bought good players who want to play for the club and that will have a strong impact on team morale. Playing for the shirt was always part of Liverpool’s culture in our heyday and Dalglish is definitely trying to bring that idea back with these signings.
We all saw how much Mascherano and Torres’ tantrums affected Liverpool last season and ridding Liverpool of disruptive players, no matter how talented, can only be good for the feeling in the dressing room,.
That doesn’t mean Liverpool shouldn’t buy non-British players for the remainder of the transfer window, because there’s lots of quality out there that won’t cost us ridiculous amounts of money but it’s definitely something the transfer team is keeping in mind.
Despite what the bank balance says, Stewart Downing is a good signing that makes sense for the club at this point of time. He may not be a player that receives universal praise, especially when you see the money being paid for him but he is a quality player nonetheless and I expect him to make a big impact at Liverpool this season.
Submitted by Liverpool Football Blog