Unwanted Stewart Downing Will Not Rush into a Move Away From Middlesbrough Despite Brighton Interest
New Middlesbrough boss Garry Monk has been quick to stamp his authority at his new club, and has apparently made it clear that fan favourite and local boy Stewart Downing can leave the club.
Despite having two more years left on his contract, it's possible that the 32-year-old winger will look for a move away from the Riverside in the search for more first team football, The Northern Echo reported on Friday.
The Middlesbrough born and raised winger has enjoyed his previous two seasons at the club, providing key experience and influence in their promotion winning Championship season of 2015/16 and throughout the following Premier League season.
The fans took to him fondly, as he is one of their own, but with Monk's appointment it appears as though his time has come.
This leaves Downing with a few options regarding his next career move, including Chris Hughton's Premier League new boys, Brighton & Hove Albion.
Hughton is reportedly an admirer of Downing and, in the search to add some valuable Premier League experience to his squad, a player like Downing could be an opportunity too good to miss.
The fact he would be on a free transfer makes the offer even more enticing as it would allow teams such as Brighton to afford to offer more competitive wages.
However, Downing could also choose to swap life at the Riverside for a transfer to the US, a move which almost fabricated in January. This is something Downing has reportedly been interested in before so a move to Major League Soccer (MLS) would not be surprising.
If Downing preferred to remain in England, there are reportedly more clubs interested in the winger as well as Brighton, including Birmingham and Sunderland who would be looking to strengthen their sides in pursuit of Premier League football.
Despite this, he does still have another two years on his contract and, if no deal can be made to suit all parties regarding his contract and wages, he may choose to remain at his boyhood club and town.
Downing will return with the rest of the squad to pre-season training next week, no doubt with a lot to think about and consider regarding his future.