Rafa Benitez reveals his 'disappointment' at Andros Townsend's Newcastle exit

Andros Townsend and Rafa Benitez
Andros Townsend and Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has told of his "disappointment" after losing Andros Townsend to Crystal Palace.

Townsend left Newcastle United at the end of the 2015-16 season after the club was relegated to the Championship.

United manager Benitez tried to persuade Townsend to stay on Tyneside, but the England international felt he needed to stay in the Premier League.

Townsend will be back at St James's Park with his team this afternoon for a Premier League game against his old club.

Asked about the winger's move, Benitez said: “I was disappointed. I had spoken to him from day one, and when he decided he called me, he sent me a message.

"I could understand that it was a chance and tried to explain to him how we could improve him.

“Sometimes the Premier League was too attractive.

"He was really pleased and very happy here. It was a just a decision about his future and England. He didn’t want to go because he wasn’t happy – it was just another chance.

“You will have to ask him if it was the right decision."

Meanwhile, Townsend has spoken about his first return to St James's Park.

"I’m not sure I’ll get a good reception, but I had a fantastic time there," said the 26-year-old.