Director of Football Damien Comolli explains to Liverpoolfc.tv why he believes Stewart Downing will prove to be a fantastic asset to Kenny Dalglish's squad and also discusses the prospect of further transfer dealings this summer.
Damien, it's been rumoured for a long time but the Stewart Downing deal is done. How pleased are you?
I am very pleased. It has been a long process and long negotiations, but we have reached an agreement with Aston Villa and the player has signed for us. We are delighted. It's difficult to say he was our No.1 target because all of our targets are our No.1 target. We did not prioritise on who we wanted to sign first, but we needed that pace and wide player that can bring us something extra, which we did not have in the squad. He has the right mentality, the right attitude and was absolutely committed to coming to us, so we are delighted.
On that commitment to come here, he's an established England player, so to come to a club not in Europe, for this season at least, says a lot about his mentality and the attraction of this football club, doesn't it?
It does. To be honest, none of the players we have approached, whether it has been Jordan Henderson, Charlie (Adam) or Alexander Doni, have said 'I'm not sure because you're not in Europe.' It seems that players think that if we're not in Europe it is just an anomaly in a way, and they know we can be very competitive and what we've done in the last six months since Kenny has been in charge. The team has been competitive and we can only get better. I know there was interest from other clubs but he wanted to play for Kenny and Liverpool. He thought it was the right type of team, the right type of football and the right football club for him. We are absolutely delighted - he is a big, big signing for us.
Liverpool fans like exciting players and they have had many down the years. Stewart has that ability to get down the touchline and get good crosses into the box, doesn't he?
That's exactly what we needed. When we have Andy up front, he can put those balls in, but also he's got more than that. He is more than a winger, he can do a lot of things. He can link up with Luis Suarez by coming in, he can play on the right and on the left. We look thoroughly into data and statistics before signing players and we really think we are bringing a big, big asset into our team. Maybe his talent is a little bit undervalued in English football, but we know what we are getting - and we are getting a very, very good, efficient footballer.
In terms of his ability, he is a player who will really excite the fans...
He will because he has pace, tricks, a great left foot, he can score, make assists and create a lot of things. He text me last night and said, 'Thank you very much for doing all of this and pursuing it until the end.' I said, 'It's no problem - just pay us back by scoring many goals and giving many assists!'
So with Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Alexander Doni and Stewart Downing signed up, this is turning into a really productive summer for Liverpool, isn't it?
Yes. What we are very pleased about is that we are still early in July. We've played only one game pre-season, and we've got a lot of players in. That will allow Steve (Clarke), Kevin (Keen) and Kenny to work well with the players straight away and not have to wait until the end of August, like sometimes you have to do. It's good for team building and it's good for the tactical work they have to do. Also, the players are from the Premier League, so we know they will settle in quickly at the club. Jordan is coming back on Monday and he can't wait.
It's difficult to say. I'm sure there will be players going out because some players would like to play more and have more minutes. We will probably have a few loans as well, players who we would like them to develop, into the Championship or the leagues abroad. In terms of players coming in, it's difficult to say. I think we are going to sit down, look at the situation, see where we are, see who might leave and then we will reassess later. But we have done most of what we wanted to do.
Downing, Adam and Henderson are three big signings - that's great commitment from the ownership, isn't it?
They have been absolutely fantastic. Kenny has said it previously, and they have been very, very helpful on the Stewart Downing deal. They gave us absolute full support. It's not only financial - obviously they made a fantastic financial commitment - but they're also very, very supportive asking if they can help. We have also taken advice from them asking what they think about a deal or what they think we should do. They are very open, they try to help us as much as they can and, again, I won't go into details, but on the Stewart Downing deal they were a great help.