Newcastle could use defender as bait to lure Andros Townsend

Chancel Mbemba

Chancel Mbemba

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Rafa Benitez could be prepared to offer Chancel Mbemba as bait in order to lure Andros Townsend to Newcastle United.

Reports suggest the Spaniard may be willing to allow the DR Congo international to leave St James' Park and head to Crystal Palace as a sweetener, in hope of landing Townsend this month.

It's understood any deal for Mbemba would involve a loan to Selhurst Park, with Townsend, a long-term winter window target of Benitez, coming the other way on an initial temporary deal.

England winger Townsend has struggled since leaving United in the summer, failing to nail down a regular first-team spot in Sam Allardyce's relegation-threatened side.

Mbemba, currently away at the Africa Cup of Nations, has been out of favour this season, despite being one of the club's stand-out performers in the Premier League last season.

The centre-half has been unable to dislodge Benitez's preferred pairing of skipper Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark, starting just eight games this season, the last of which was November's defeat to Blackburn.

Andros Townsend and Rafa Benitez.

Andros Townsend and Rafa Benitez.