Having been told he was free to leave the club midway through the 2012-13 season, the winger rallied to force his way back into Rodgers' plans - racking up 45 more matches and five goals in the process.
He joined the Reds on their summer tour of Indonesia, Australia and Thailand in 2013 and expressed his wish to fight for a place at Anfield, but a move to West Ham United was confirmed for the wide-man in August of that year.
The relationship between the two men has been fractious at times over the last year or so and Downing has started only 13 league games to date this season, the last of them at left wing-back against Crystal Palace following George Friend’s late withdrawal.
Indeed, he was made available for loan during the January transfer window and there was significant interest in him, although Boro would not allow him to join a direct rival and the player was unwilling to return to the Sky Bet Championship, so he remained where he was.
Downing's previously assured place in the Liverpool XI was under threat following the appointment of Brendan Rodgers as boss in 2012, and the Englishman was switched to a defensive position for a brief period.When Liverpool came back with a higher offer, Villa allowed Downing to leave.Downing supported his local League club as a child and graduated from Boro’s Academy with glowing reports.Downing did not make the matchday squad for that game and when asked about his and January signing Patrick Bamford’s exclusion after the game, Karanka spoke of his need for “18 fighters”.Sources on Teesside have confirmed that Downing, who was disgruntled to have been left out the the squad for Premier League trip to Stoke on March 4, raised the issue with the Spaniard and received a blunt response.There were strong rumours about a move to Anfield following Middlesbrough’s relegation in 2009, but the then 24-year-old elected to join Aston Villa.