Andros Townsend had a great second half of the season after moving to Newcastle and he made the preliminary England squad as a result. He didn’t manage to prevent Newcastle from getting relegated, but that could turn out to be a huge positive for Crystal Palace, who are believed to the frontrunners for his signature. There was a belief that he might stay at Newcastle, but the Palace move is looking too good to turn down. It will allow him to move back to London and make an instant return to the Premier League, putting him back into the England picture. Palace also seem a good fit as they play a style that suits Townsend, but he would have to compete with Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie for a starting berth.
In his short spell at Newcastle, Townsend managed to score four goals and contributed two assists in just 13 appearances. The two Palace wingers produced seven goals and four assists between them. The Newcastle winger was involved in a goal every 181.5 minutes since moving from Tottenham, a really good return considering he was playing in a side fighting relegation. This is much better than Bolasie (259.6) and Zaha (832.3), with the latter’s goal involvement being particularly poor.
In terms of his style, Townsend is direct, and likes to run at the full back with pace. He developed a lot at Newcastle, adding consistency to his game. He does have a habit of scoring wonder goals, while he is also a very good set piece taker. Palace will know the danger that Townsend has from dead balls, as he scored a wonderful free kick against them towards the end of last season. In terms of his weaknesses, he can be too selfish, and his decision making is questionable, but he is an exciting player to watch.
Townsend has shown that he has a good mentality and doesn’t hide away from the pressure. There were many players in that Newcastle squad that couldn’t handle the pressure of relegation, but Townsend wasn’t one of them. He managed to strike up a connection with the Newcastle fans and they will be disappointed to leave the club, but they will understand his reasons for doing so. Palace last season could be accused of being weak mentally, especially in the second half of the season as they struggled to turn around their poor form. They would benefit from having a player like Townsend, who stands up, even when things are going badly.
These stats need to be taken with caution, as Townsend only played for half the season, and it is much easier to sustain form over a shorter amount of time. It is easy to see why Pardew is in the market for another winger though. Neither Bolasie nor Zaha managed to sustain consistency over the entire season, and Pardew will hope quality competition will improve their performances and contribution. Also in the modern game, having a squad is crucial, especially in a league as competitive as the Premier League. Pardew will think that he was lacking strength in depth last season, which may have contributed to the team’s drop off in the second half of the campaign.
There is no denying that Andros Townsend is a much more attractive proposition for Premier League sides now, than he was six months ago. He was easily Newcastle’s best player towards the end of the season and ran riot against Tottenham in the final game of the season. He will be keen to get back into the England squad, especially given they were lacking a direct attacker like him during the European Championships, but he knows Premier League football is required to do that. It is an odd signing for Palace, as they already possess some great wingers, and there are other positions that need strengthening more, goalkeeper and striker are two that spring to mind. However, he had a better goal involvement than both Bolasie and Zaha, and could be the man that Pardew wants to lead the attack.