Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing still hasn’t signed a contract extension with the Riverside club. Downing’s agent Ian Elliott reckons that he’ll see out the remaining two and a bit years of his contract and swan off to a swankier contract with a bigger club thank-you-very-much. However, Middlesbrough Chairman Steve Gibson and Manager Gareth Southgate seem to be in denial, clinging to the misguided belief that Downing will see sense and sign on the dotted line.
An optimistic Gareth Southgate said:
“He is very, very settled in his mind that he wants to play his football here and he is an incredibly valuable part of the team.
“I know negotiations have been going on for quite a while, but what we have tried to do with all the young players is keep rewarding them every year or two years for their performances and get their contracts sorted out before it gets to the stage where they have only a few months left.
“With Stewart, we are talking about this, but he still has two years-plus to go. We see it as one of our priorities, but in terms of the timescale, there is still time to negotiate with him.”
So do Southgate and co need to wake up to the possibilty that in a couple of years Downing and his agent could do a number on Middlesbrough and leave for nothing?