Newcastle reportedly battle Sunderland for Stewart Downing; could McClaren reunion seal deal?

Newcastle are reportedly interested in West Ham ace Stewart Downing.

According to the Daily Star, Newcastle are interested in signing West Ham playmaker Stewart Downing this summer - despite interest from North East rivals Sunderland.

The Magpies need attacking reinforcements this summer, and the report states that Downing could be a potential target given that West Ham have just signed Marseille star Dimitri Payet - possibly to replace Downing.

A return to the North East has been suggested, six years after leaving Middlesbrough to join Aston Villa; and Downing's relationship with Magpies boss Steve McClaren could help Newcastle hijack Sunderland's attempts to sign the ex-Liverpool flop.

McClaren made his name as a manager with Middlesbrough, and helped develop Downing by handing him his debut and a subsequent key role in his side before leaving the Riverside Stadium to take the England job.

Whilst McClaren was in charge of the Three Lions, Downing earned his first England start and grew into a first team regular on the international stage, with McClaren attempting to get the best out of him again.

Now, 30-year-old Downing could be available this summer, and another spell under McClaren could be an interesting proposition to the West Ham star.

Born in Middlesbrough, returning to the North East should be appealing to Downing - and the prospect of not only working with McClaren again but playing regular first team football at St. James' Park could swing the race in Newcastle's favour, if McClaren is indeed chasing Downing this summer.

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