This transfer has shocked fans from both clubs after Downing enjoyed, what can only be called a revival season last year, bagging six goals and eight assists over the campaign.
Despite a lacklustre end to the season, there is no doubt that he was one of the most important players in West Ham's strong league position at Christmas, when they appeared to be in the battle for a top seven spot.
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A good deal for both sides?
However, the sale isn’t a completely crazy one when you look closely at the details. West Ham will recoup all of the £5m they paid for him two years ago and with the arrival of French international Dimitri Payet, his game time may have been reduced.
And for Middlesbrough? They have been reunited with a former star who is easily capable of playing at the top level and will be a major part in their desire to return to the Premier League, after six years of Championship football.
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Where will Bilic look for a replacement?
Manager, Slavan Bilic knows that he needs enough players to cope with Europa league football and is searching for a young talent to fill Downing’s boots. That man is thought to be Manuel Lanzini, who currently plays in the UAE for Al Jazira.
At just 22-years-old and with no Premier League experience a deal for the youngster would be a risk, however it appears Bilic is keen to bring him in on an initial loan deal with an option to buy.
Lanzini was called up 4 times for Argentina U20s but is yet to play in a senior match. Last season for Al Jazira was a strong one for the star, becoming the youngest foreign player to play in the Arabian Gulf League, where he netted 8 goals in his 24 appearances.
After West Ham’s 1-0 Victory over Maltese side Birkirkara, Bilic vowed to improve the attackers at the club as Modibo Maiga failed to impress. Lanzini is seen as the first step, with the club targeting other attacking players such as Javier Hernandez from Manchester United and Charlie Austin from relegated Queens Park Rangers.
On the bright side, it appears that Andy Carroll could be back by the start of the season, meaning Bilic will have a wealth of options in attacking positions. This could result in him using a 4-2-3-1 formation, one he favoured while at Besiktas.
Does Bilic have everything under control? Can he guide West Ham to a Europa League spot this season? Give us YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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