Earlier this month, news broke of Newcastle United’s interest in former winger Andros Townsend, with reports suggesting that United and Crystal Palace had begun initial talks.
It is now understood that the Magpies will only make their move if Matt Ritchie is sold, with the Scotsman’s potential transfer being used to fund the Townsend deal.
Manager Rafa Benitez would ideally like to bring Townsend in as well as keeping hold of Ritchie, which will provide squad depth as well as competition. However, Benitez revealed this week that United are on a ‘tight budget’ and would need to move players out to generate further income.
Benitez also stated that he is ‘not 100%’ happy with the situation, given that United had pocketed over £120m from their 10th place finish in the Premier League; although this is not a huge surprise to fans, who are well accustomed to owner Mike Ashley’s tight-fisted regime.
Interestingly, the possible transfers of Townsend and Ritchie could well stem from Xherdan Shaqiri’s move from Stoke City to Liverpool. Stoke have identified Ritchie as Shaqiri’s replacement, while Newcastle will move for Townsend if Ritchie signs for Stoke.
Meanwhile Crystal Palace have targeted Michail Antonio as a possible replacement for Townsend, with Antonio’s club West Ham open to offers after their acquisition of Felipe Anderson.
The Magpies signed Ritchie from AFC Bournemouth for £12m in July 2016, following their relegation to the Championship. Coincidently, he was signed to take the place of Townsend who, in turn, joined Crystal Palace.
Ritchie’s work ethic and determination has led him to become a fan-favourite at St James’ Park, and along with his quality in the final third as well as his set piece delivery, he will be missed should he leave the Magpies.
Townsend’s playing style in no secret to Newcastle fans, with the winger flourishing during his short stint at the Toon in 2016. He has however, been accused of ‘jumping ship’ by many fans on social media following his decision to leave the club after relegation and has been jeered by United fans whenever he has faced them since.
His quality is obvious, while he can be said to offer more than Ritchie on the ball, with Rafa always seeking to improve his squad. His mentality is questionable however, and if he does return he may need to demonstrate more than quality in order to win select supporters back.
Written by Dawud Arshad
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