Rafa Benitez waits on news of Newcastle’s swap bid for Andros Townsend

Chancel Mbemba
Chancel Mbemba

Chancel Mbemba could be the key to Newcastle United’s move for Andros Townsend.

Rafa Benitez is keen to be reunited with Townsend at St James’s Park.

Relegation-threatened Crystal Palace, up to now, have been unwilling to loan the winger, who joined them from Newcastle last summer in a £13million deal.

But there have been discussions about a deal involving for Townsend involving defender Mbemba going the other way on loan.

Mbemba – who is due back on Tyneside this week after DR Congo were knocked out of the African Cup of Nations by Christian Atsu’s Ghana – has only made seven Championship starts this season for United.

Palace manager Sam Allardyce is keen to bring in reinforcements to shore up his defence before the deadline.

Asked about a potential swap deal, Benitez said: “At the moment, I do not have news one way or the other.”

Promotion-chasing Newcastle, knocked out of the FA Cup by League One club Oxford United on Saturday, have also been looking at midfielders in the transfer window, which closes tomorrow night.

“We have to do our job before (the deadline),” said Benitez.

“We have our targets, but we don’t know if we can get them.”

United, second in the Championship table ahead of Wednesday night’s home game against Queens Park Rangers, have predominantly been looking at loans in the window, though owner Mike Ashley could yet sanction a cash deal – if the price is right.

Wolverhampton Wanderers have been linked with a move for Newcastle defender Grant Hanley over the weekend.

Hanley captained Benitez’s side against Oxford, who booked a place in the last 16 of the FA Cup with a 3-0 win at the Kassam Stadium.

The 25-year-old joined United from Blackburn Rovers last summer.

Hanley played under Wolves manager Paul Lambert at Ewood Park.

Meanwhile, United midfielder Cheick Tiote is close to a move to China, where the transfer window doesn’t close until late next month.

Tiote, out of contract in the summer, could head out to the Far East later this week.

Asked about Tiote, Benitez said: “We have some clubs interested in him, and we are waiting now for the solution to the situation.”