Why it would be a big mistake for West Ham to sell Stewart Downing

West Ham Upton Park

West Ham United need to keep all their quality players and focus on building a squad that can succeed in Slaven Bilic's debut campaign.

According to a report from the Telegraph, Sunderland and Leicester City are interested in signing West Ham United player Stewart Downing this summer, but why on earth would the Hammers let him go?

The latest report claims West Ham want £7million plus add-ons for the 30-year-old, and that is likely to tempt any potential suitors into making a move, but it would be a mistake on the part of Slaven Bilic’s side, to wave goodbye to a player who could be vital for them if he remained.

Downing played some brilliant football last season, and while he was unable to maintain that form for the entire campaign the simple fact is he is too good – and too important – to sell.

At 30 he is at an age when he can bring real experience to Bilic’s team and with a number of new faces likely to arrive this summer there also needs to be a level of consistency.

Downing offers that, and in what is to be West Ham’s farewell season at Upton Park the club will want to go out with a bang, so why limit your chances of doing that by cashing in on a player who still offers so much?

The former Liverpool winger played 42 times for the Hammers last season, featuring in all but one of the club’s Premier League fixtures, and he scored six goals and provided eight assists in that time.

He is also versatile enough to play on either wing or behind the front-man and with West Ham’s season starting alarmingly early due to their Europa League participation, they will need all the quality players they can get their hands on.

We have seen in the past what an early start in Europe’s second competition can do to a club at the business end of a campaign and Bilic will be all too aware of those perils.

West Ham do not need £7million as much as they need a player of Downing’s experience, so keep him, and see how he works in a side that could go on to great things in the next few years if Bilic continues to strengthen as impressively as he has already in his short spell in charge.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch