Should Newcastle re-sign Andros Townsend? The case for and against
Andros Townsend makes his first return to St James's Park tomorrow since leaving for Crystal Palace in the summer of 2016.
But although the England winger has been regularly linked with a permanent move back to Tyneside, would Newcastle fans welcome him back?
Here, United supporters Michael Grahamslaw and Jordan Pollington answer the question: Should Rafa re-sign Townsend?
MICHAEL GRAHAMSLAW: NO:
Newcastle already have two solid – and in-form - wingers in Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie. So why should Rafa spend £15m-plus on more back-up?
Assault, theft and child abuse images - 11 people given jail sentences for offences in South Tyneside in September
Plans refused for 'Best Doner' shawarma kebab shop and barbers planned in former South Shields clothes shop
Picture released after suspected stalking incident at South Tyneside Metro station
Benitez spent big on Jacob Murphy in the summer and saw Rolando Aarons shine in the otherwise dismal League Cup defeat against Nottingham Forest.
In other words, we have cover out wide.
Instead, while Rafa must use back-up players like Jesus Gamez and Chancel Mbemba out of position, our lack of defensive depth must take priority.
Then there is the even more urgent need for more attacking options, with United lacking a prolific No 9 and Ayoze Perez a seriously inconsistent No 10.
And what about Townsend’s own inconsistency?
The reason he was loved at Newcastle during his first spell is because he took one of the most uncreative teams in the league and made them unpredictable.
But fans of club and country can all confirm that his form can fluctuate massively. And when you factor in a greed for the ball that doesn’t really fit a Rafa-style system, I can’t see Benitez fancying having him back.
If Townsend was available for less than Palace paid for him, there might – MIGHT – be an argument for bringing him home.
But if the price is anything close to the £20m talked about this summer, we should steer well clear.
I’ll give the lad a clap on Saturday – but that’s it.
JORDAN POLLINGTON: YES
Newcastle can be pleased with their start to the season, having recruited on a budget this summer.
But they should push the boat out in January to maintain that early promise...by bringing Townsend back.
For me, United’s squad lacks enough depth to cover an injury crisis that would be all too familiar on Tyneside.
A clear lack of proven cover on the wings has been highlighted recently by Christian Atsu’s and Matt Ritchie’s injury scares.
Jacob Murphy is still finding his feet at the club and Rolando Aarons doesn’t seem to be close to the first team at this moment.
So why shouldn’t we look at Townsend when he returns to St James’s this weekend, and say: let’s get him back?
He would certainly add quality to the squad – or have people forgotten the impression he made in a dismal team two seasons ago?
For us – and, at times, for Palace – the lad’s ability has shone through.
Despite the Eagles’ struggles, he ran the full length of the pitch to score at West Brom and caused major problems to the Chelsea defence last Saturday.
He is explosive, can score with either foot and take a free kick.
In short, Townsend can still hurt even the best defences. And Rafa Benitez knows how to get the most out of him.
If reuniting them brings vital points for Newcastle during what might be tougher times the other side of Christmas, then it will be worth it.
Even at £15 million-plus...