According to Sky Sports, new Middlesbrough manager Garry Monk has told winger Stewart Downing that he is free to leave the club. The former Aston Villa midfielder is not in the plans of the ex-Leeds United head coach and his future is set to be away from the Riverside Stadium.
The 32-year-old made 34 appearances for Boro in both league and cup last season as they were relegated out of the Premier League after just one season back in the top flight. Monk is busy putting plans together to shape his Middlesbrough shape and the 35-cap England international Downing is set to leave the club for a second time. Monk is even happy for Downing to move away on a free transfer.
The Middlesbrough-born attacker is just one game shy of playing 250 times for his hometown club, which has come over two spells. After breaking through the youth ranks on Teesside, he made his Boro debut all the way back in April 2002 in a Premier League defeat to Ipswich Town. He would head off to Aston Villa in 2009, where he impressed enough to earn him a big money move to Liverpool a few years afterwards. A stint at West Ham United followed before returning to help Middlesbrough back into the big time in 2015, signing a four-year deal.
It remains to be seen who will come in for Downing this summer. There is still a chance he may make an immediate return into the Premier League. He will still believe he can do a job at this level, or certainly towards the top end of the Sky Bet Championship. He may have set his heart of seeing out his career at the Riverside, but he’ll have to make new plans it seems.