Sunderland reportedly still chasing Downing as Payet approaches West Ham arrival

Baines, Downing, Rooney and Henderson England

The West Ham winger is being chased by the Black Cats who are looking to improve their squad before the new season.

Sunderland are still keen to bring Stewart Downing back to the North East this summer according to the Chronicle, as West Ham continue to chase Marseille star Dimitri Payet.

The Chronicle say that Dick Advocaat and the Black Cats are set to return to a player who made his name at nearby Middlesbrough, despite the fact the England winger has been a vital player for the Hammers since joining in 2013.

Downing actually took in a short spell at Sunderland earlier on in his career, when he played 7 games and scored 3 times at the Stadium of Light, and with a bid of £5 million having been turned down according to the report, the Black Cats are set to come back in with a £7 million attempt to acquire the player.

However, whether that is enough to Downing depends on the player the Chronicle say, with their sources stating that he might want to stay and fight for his place even if Payet arrives this summer.

A North-East England favourite

No player from the three North-East cities of Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough has made more England appearances than the West Ham winger since Alan Shearer retired in 2000. 

Downing has 35 England caps, and has played for his country for nearly nine years without ever really nailing down a permanent role in the starting eleven.

He was recalled to the squad earlier last season after a superb beginning to the campaign, and the 30-year-old went on to have one of his best years in a long time, scoring 6 goals and assisting 8 in 37 league matches.

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