Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is in the process of preparing a £15 million move for Crystal Palace’s attacking outlet Andros Townsend as he looks to replace the outgoing Marko Arnautovic.
It is thought that, as reported by The Sun, Stoke are in desperate need to replace the Austrian, who recently signed for rivals West Ham in a £24 million switch, before the Premier League season begins.
Hughes has singled out the England international as the man he believes will get Stoke back challenging for the top-half of the table again, after a disappointing 13th place finish last time out.
Would Andros Townsend fit in at the bet365 Stadium?
It is a big decision for Stoke manager Mark Hughes to make to find the correct replacement for Arnautovic, with the Austrian being directly involved in over a quarter of their goals in the Premier League (six goals and five assists), and he’ll need to find somebody with the same productivity.
The Austrian was involved in just over a quarter of Stoke’s final goal tally last year – creating 50 chances alone – and anybody coming in to the club over the summer would have some big shoes to fill.
But, after a few years of uncertainty and rare first-team opportunities at both Tottenham and Newcastle respectively, Townsend seems to have found his rhythm at the top level once again at Crystal Palace and he could prove to be a dangerous outlet should he make the switch to Stoke.
He was influential in Palace’s battle to avoid the drop last year, showing glimpses of the form that earned him an England call-up all those years ago, and he is still able to accelerate away from opponents, with ease.
He scored three times while assisting four more and, most importantly for Hughes, he created the exact same number of chances as Arnautovic (50) in the area, which shows he is just as busy in the final third.
Throw in the fact that he attempted 105 take-ons throughout his 36 Premier League appearances and it is clear to see his first intention is always to attack towards the by-line, which could be breath of fresh air in Stoke’s side.
Although he can be a frustrating player to watch at times, often trying to shoot too early or failing to find a man with his final ball, with a bit of fine-tuning from the experienced Potters boss, he could be a great fit.
On a side note, Townsend himself could be up for a move as it could resurrect his slim chances of being considered for Gareth Southgate’s 2018 World Cup squad. He is much more likely to be noticed if he is playing at a top-half side, rather than helping Palace try and avoid relegation for another year.