Downing hints at Boro exit
Stewart Downing has warned Middlesbrough that he may have to look for a move away from the Riverside Stadium if the club cannot fulfil his ambition of playing in the Champions League.
Despite being linked with a move to 2005 Champions League winners Liverpool over the summer, Downing still remains a Boro player.
The England winger signed a new five-year contract in February and Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate has insisted that Downing is not for sale.
Downing said he would find it hard to leave the club where he has spent all of his professional career, but admitted the lure of playing in the Champions League is tempting.
The midfielder told the Evening Gazette: 'If there are big clubs interested in you it is flattering and sometimes you are tempted.
'My mates are big Boro fans and they obviously want me to be at Middlesbrough for all my career, and if we become a top team, a Champions League team, then there would be no question about going.
'But if we don't eventually make that step, then one day I might have to make that decision. It's an important couple of years for me.
'I think every player likes to try something new in their career and I'm no different.'