Brighton edging Aston Villa in tussle for former England stalwart

While Brighton & Hove Albion fans are still basking in the glow of securing top-flight football for the first time in 34 years, manager Chris Hughton is hard at work improving their survival chances – with Stewart Downing among his top targets.

The Seagulls are 2/1 favourites to sign the Middlesbrough man this summer – and he’d certainly offer enormous experience to a squad who are largely unversed in Premier League football.

Downing has over 400 top-flight appearances to his name, as well as 35 England caps and experience of playing in major finals for both Liverpool and Boro. And despite an inconsistent season in 2016-17, he still has plenty to offer at this level.

However, it’s possible we could see the 32-year-old leave Teesside to join one of his current club’s Championship promotion rivals – in the shape of Aston Villa.

Steve Bruce is 4/1 to lure the midfielder back to Villa Park this summer, with Downing having spent two seasons at the club from 2009-11.

The Villans are followed in the betting by a trio of dark horses, including two of Boro’s North-East rivals.

Sunderland – where Downing spent a brief loan spell early in his career – are 8/1 to add the experienced midfielder to their ranks, with newly-promoted pair Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town also priced up at 8s for his signature.

Stewart Downing – Club by end of Summer 2017 transfer window

Brighton – 2/1

Aston Villa – 4/1

Sunderland – 8/1

Newcastle– 8/1

Huddersfield – 8/1

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing