Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing has ignited a battle between Sunderland and Rangers for his signature, according to the Northern Echo.
The 34-year-old, whose current contract with Boro runs out at the end of this season, has been limited to the bench due to a strange clause in his contract.
The clause states that if Downing starts another game for Boro they would not only have to increase his wages, but Downing would also see an automatic one-year extension to his current contract with Boro.
Consequently, with Tony Pulis wary of triggering this clause, he has been unable to select the former Liverpool and Aston Villa winger in his first-team plans.
Downing’s last appearance for Boro came in their 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa before the international break in which he was brought on for right-back Ryan Shotton in the 32nd minute.
Also, while it is not known whether Downing would prefer a move to Scotland or rejoin Sunderland, his final decision may well depend on where the Black Cats finish this season.
Sitting in fourth place in League One, Jack Ross’ side are only five points behind automatic promotion places, while also having two games in hand on the sides above them in the table.
However, with Rangers being managed by Steven Gerrard, a former team-mate of Downing’s at Liverpool, one cannot rule out a move to the Scottish Premiership either.
Regardless of what decision the 34-year-old takes, it appears certain that Downing will be leaving Boro in the summer transfer window, bringing an end to his on-off 18-year affiliation with Boro.