Downing deal edging closer

Middlesbrough's Stewart Downing is on the verge of signing the new five-year contract he agreed last week.

The England international had looked set to leave the Riverside during the recent transfer window, but having risen through the academy ranks at Boro he eventually decided to remain at his hometown club.

Legal technicalities have meant that the deal is yet to be officially completed, but Boro boss Gareth Southagte has assured supporters that the player is expected to sign in the next few days.

No problems

"As with any contract, it has to go to one side's solicitors to make sure everything is right," Southgate said in the Guardian.

"It's just about physically being here and getting it all done. There is no stumbling block.

"I know Stewart is keen to just get it done and I'm sure that it will be done in the next couple of days or so."

Downing is likely to play a crucial role in Boro's bid to maintain their Premier League status this season, but Southgate feels that he will ably supported by other emerging heroes at the Riverside.


One such player is Fabio Rochemback, who despite initially struggling to adapt to life in the Premier League on his arrival 2005, has been something of a revelation this season and has become a firm fixture in his manager's first-team plans.

"Fabio is a fairly private person and he found it difficult at first to settle," Southgate said in the Daily Express.

"The fact that he is now playing on a regular basis has really helped him.

"His ability, as far as I am concerned, is in no doubt. That Barcelona brought him over from South America shows his quality.

"He is a terrific passer of the ball, but he is also not afraid to get stuck in. He can be just about anything he wants in football.

"He can do everything and he loves playing.

"The fans are just starting to warm to him too, which is a great sign."