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While at Newcastle for 13 Premier League games in 2016, Andros Townsend became quite a crowd favourite. A willingness to take people on, and of course his 4 league goals in that time contributed to his popularity on Tyneside.
Newcastle attempted to sign him back to boost their promotion bid in January; the stumbling block reportedly being that Crystal Palace wanted a loan fee on top of any potential permanent signing fee in the summer. The general view among the fans is that Townsend would be welcome back at SJP, but would it be such a great idea?
Firstly, there is the matter of loyalty. Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are not necessarily at a level below Townsend in terms of ability and both had firm offers to remain in the Premier League. Instead, they took the view, that playing for a club as big as Newcastle and for a manager of the calibre of Rafael Benitez would actually benefit their careers in the longer term.
Townsend, however, did the opposite. Having only signed for Newcastle 4 months earlier, he was very quick to look for an exit to remain as a Premier League player, ultimately signing for Crystal Palace. The fact that he was at a club at one point heading towards relegation is an irony not lost on us.
Newcastle need a new left winger but Townsend prefers to start on the right and cut inside. The fact that he is of similar ability to Matt Ritchie would lead many to believe there is no point in bringing him in, only to offer cover rather than a definite improvement to the squad.
Despite his obvious talent, and his representation of England, Townsend’s overall profile is a little worrying. The man from Walthamstow went out on loan 9 times before finally breaking through at Tottenham and that alone is quite a stat. Even when he did claim a regular place at White Hart Lane, he never got more than 2 league goals in a season for Spurs; levels the current Newcastle squad can already achieve.
Proving to be not at the level required by Tottenham, he was allowed to leave in early 2016 and joined relegation-threatened Newcastle. Although he did well at that time, it must be remembered that it’s easier to look good in a struggling team and his performances were not enough to stop Newcastle from going down.
Making himself available for the transfer straight after the season ended, Townsend was looking for a big move but ended up at Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace. An uninspiring transfer went exactly how it was predicted to go; Andros’ own performances being decent while Palace continued to regress. They were right in the relegation mix when Palace let Pardew go.
The club has improved but the fact that no-one else wanted to put up the money for Townsend speaks volumes and so when Newcastle enter Premier League, they should be aiming higher than those players who appear to be regarded as bottom-half material.