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According to reports from the Sun, Stoke City boss Martin Hughes is planning to make a £15million offer for Crystal Palace winger Andros Townsend, in order to replace Marko Arnautovic.
The Potters sold the Austrian attacker to fellow Premier League side West Ham United for a reported fee of £25million and are now on the lookout for a suitable replacement, ahead of the coming season. Hughes seems to have narrowed down on Townsend as the right man to step into the shoes left vacant by Arnautovic.
Stoke did not have the best of the seasons last time around, finishing in the 13th place, and the manager finds himself under some amount of pressure to change things around in the coming term. And for that to happen, the club need to act fast and replace Arnautovic, who was such a crucial player for the club since his move to England from Werder Bremen.
Hughes does have options like Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and the young Ramadan Sobhi. But considering the injury issues of both Shaqiri and Afellay and the inexperience of Sobhi, it leaves the club thinly stocked on the wings. So, a new wide player before the close of the window is a top priority for the manager and the club.
But, should Townsend be their prime target?
The 26-year old joined Palace only last summer from Newcastle United after the Magpies got relegated to the Championship. However, he struggled to get going in the first-half of the season and was linked with a return to the St. James’ Park in the January transfer window. However, he stayed put with the Eagles and did show some signs of form towards the end of the campaign. Townsend ended the season with a return of 3 goals and 7 assists from 40 games in all competitions.
Able to play on either flank, Townsend possesses an explosive burst of pace and has the ability to run with the ball and is technically very strong as well. However, it is the consistency factor that has been missing from his game for a long time now.
Having burst onto the scene with boyhood club Tottenham Hotspur, Townsend has struggled to translate the initial potential that he had shown into consistent performances. There are no questions about his talent and on his day, he can wreak havoc against any opposition, but the concern is that such days come few and far in between.
The 13-time capped England international did impress in Palace’s pre-season tour of Asia, playing as a wing-back under new manager Frank de Boer and seems to have settled in at the Selhurst Park now. With his contract running until the summer of 2021, the Eagles are under no pressure to sell and cash in on him. So, it is unlikely that Palace will entertain any offers from Stoke. Even if they do, they will want much more than the £15million Stoke are willing to offer.
Therefore, it would be best that Stoke turn their attention towards other potential targets rather than spend their time on a player who isn’t likely to leave. Even if he does, he will come at a cost and may not turn out to be the value for money. As a result, Hughes and Potters are better off exploring other avenues.