Arsenal Now In Hunt for Stewart Downing, With The Winger Almost Certainly Leaving Aston Villa

Possibly the most flattering photo ever taken of Stewart Downing.

Sky Sports would like us to believe that Arsenal have prepared an £18 million bid for Aston Villa's player of the season, Mr. Stewart Downing himself. Despite Alex McLeish resolving to keep the England international, it seems Downing is almost certainly leaving Villa Park this season. But is he really off to join the Gunners? Or is this just a ploy to get Liverpool to pony up a bit more cash?

Earlier this week, Arsenal also stated their intent to keep one of their best players, saying that they'll offer Samir Nasri hundreds of thousands of pounds to stay at the Emirates. Apparently, though, they've realized Nasri actually wants to win, and are seeking alternatives to the Frenchman. Still, Arsenal paying nearly £20m for Downing is a strange idea -- he's over 20, he's English, people have heard of him. Granted, Arsenal's typical methods are breaking down, so maybe the club is finally giving credence to a different idea.

At this point, it's time to let go of Stewie, just as we were able to detach from Ash. He's on his way out. Whether we think his behavior is appropriate or professional doesn't matter. What matters now is -- what next? The Villa already have to replace Ashley Young, which will be enough of a struggle. Now we'll have to replace two attacking midfielders/forwards/whatever they would be under AML. But with who? Villa have yet to sign even one player this season.

The idea of signing two players of their caliber, well, that's one we can all just put out of our minds. It might be time to pull an Arsenal. Or even a Wigan. Go outside the UK, look beyond Ireland. Find young players from beyond the overpriced English system. Keep developing our youth. It's going to take time, unfortunately, but we're now left with little choice.

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