Southgate insists Downing 'simply not for sale'
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate insists England winger Stewart Downing is 'simply not for sale'.
The 23-year-old midfielder has been linked with both Liverpool and Aston Villa this summer after previously being touted as a target for Tottenham and Everton.
But Southgate is adamant the most high-profile of Middlesbrough's academy graduates - who signed a new five-year deal with his home - town club last season, is going nowhere.
He said: 'Stewart Downing is not for sale, it is as simple as that. We know his value.
'We get calls from lots of clubs about people, but we have not had any about Stewart.
'It surprises me when there is all the speculation because if people are interested in buying, it would be nice if they made contact with us and then we could just tell them straight to their face that he is not for sale.
'But that's part of the summer transfer merry-go-round. You have to deal with that speculation.
'I always say to the players, as long as they focus on fact and what they know and what I tell them - because I am very honest with them - then there is no problem.'
Boro have so far added Sparta Rotterdam's Marvin Emnes and Paris St Germain's Didier Digard to their squad and are monitoring other targets, but there could also be more departures.
Former skipper George Boateng left the Teesside club after six years when he completed a £1million move to newly-promoted Hull earlier this week, and Wigan are understood to have expressed an interest in Lee Cattermole.
Southgate told the club's official website: 'We have had interest in Lee, along with a couple of our other young players.
'There has been a lot of loan interest in him and we have had a tentative offer, but that's as far as it has gone at this moment in time.'