Stewart Downing has rarely been the subject of huge praise. To many, Liverpool coughing up £20 million on him in back in 2011 was seen as surprise.
Even more so as Liverpool reportedly chose Downing over Juan Mata, who has gone on to shine at Chelsea.
Downing had enjoyed a successful career at both Middlesborough and Aston Villa. In fairness he was arguably one of Villa's best players alongside Ashley Young in 2010-11.
Scoring eight goals and creating nine assists from 44 appearances in all competitions, his impressive form even earned him the Villain's Player of the Year award.
This prompted Liverpool, under the reign of Kenny Dalglish to bid £15 million for the England international. This was however immediately declined and so Liverpool then upped their offer to a substantial sum of £20 million, which was accepted.
Since his arrival at Anfield, the 29-year-old has failed to make the impact expected. He concluded his first season with no goals and no assists in the Premier League and only two goals and two assists across all competitions.
Downing's misery was further compounded as he became the first player in seven years to miss three consecutive Premier League penalties, much to the joy of the club's rivals who gladly mocked both the club and Downing's failure.
His most notable contribution in his inaugural Anfield season was a stand-out performance in the League Cup final win over Cardiff City.
A lacklustre performance by the rest of the team was overshadowed by Downing, who earned a man of the match award for his efforts.
His second season was slightly more fruitful, with 5 goals and 9 assists from all competitions.
Despite his upturn in form last season, Downing's overall record stands at 3 goals from 123 shots, a 2.4% conversion rate, in 4671 minutes (nearly 78 hours) of Premier League football at Liverpool.
Although he has performed in games such as the 4-0 home victory over Fulham in the league, he still hasn't been consistent enough to justify his price tag.
The number 19's Anfield career has dwindled recently. He has been slightly frozen out of Liverpool's pre-season of late, remaining an unused substitute against Olympiacos and Thailand despite playing in their first three games.
Furthermore Brendan Rodgers is likely to favour the younger wingers available to him in the upcoming season, such as Jordon Ibe or Raheem Sterling who have impressed in their recent friendlies.
Ibe and Sterling offer a pacy, penetrative and direct attacking style which Downing has lacked in the majority of his performances.
In addition to Ibe and Sterling, Iago Aspas and Phillipe Coutinho can also be used on the wings, further decreasing the likelihood of Downing's first-team opportunities.
This has led the Reds boss to deem Downing dispensable, with Liverpool reportedly keen to offload him for £5 million.
A low figure it may be, but considering his price and his lack of favour perhaps both parties would benefit from any possible move.
According to the Liverpool Echo, Newcastle United contacted the player's representatives to confirm their interest and find out whether he would be keen on a move to St James' Park.
This comes several months after being reassured by his Northern Irish boss earlier in pre-season that he remained part of his plans.
However Rodgers has reportedly offered the Englishman to the Magpies and other Premier League clubs for a fraction of what the Merseyside club paid for him.
Downing has been the subject of interest from West Ham in recent months too. Newcastle are understood to have distanced themselves from any potential move. Nevertheless he is likely to leave Liverpool in the summer if the Reds can find any takers.
The Newcastle Chronicle reports that the Magpies have played down the approach as they concentrate bringing in another striker.
The winger who has two years left on his contract spoke of his reluctance to move on recently “I feel settled now."
"The first year at Liverpool was difficult but once I established myself in the team last season I really enjoyed it."
"That's why I don't want to leave. If you are playing with good players in a good team then you don't want to lose that.”
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