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Crystal Palace

Replacing Matt Ritchie with Andros Townsend would be backwards step for Newcastle

The wide positions appear to be a priority, with the Telegraph reporting that the Magpies are interested in signing former player Andros Townsend from Crystal Palace.

Jake Jackman

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Newcastle United completed their second signing of the summer last week and they could be set to ramp up their recruitment drive over the coming days. The wide positions appear to be a priority, with the Telegraph reporting that the Magpies are interested in signing former player Andros Townsend from Crystal Palace.

However, they will only make a move for the England international if Matt Ritchie is sold. Stoke City are one of the clubs believed to be interested in the right winger.

This is a surprising development and the club could be set to go full circle, as Ritchie was the player signed to replace Townsend at St James’ Park in 2016. At that time, the latter wanted to be playing Premier League football to reignite his international career, while the former saw a move to Newcastle as a chance to enhance his own reputation.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The report goes on to say that Townsend has remained on Newcastle’s radar since he left the club after relegation, but finances have prevented him returning up until now.

The fee and wages remain a problem, but Ritchie could be used to help finance a move if Stoke’s interest firms up. The relegated club have reportedly made him a priority target as they attempt to win promotion at the first attempt.

Supporters are split on these reports. There is no doubting the impact that Townsend had on Newcastle during his short spell in the North East. He was their standout player during the second half of their relegation campaign, with four goals and two assists in just over 1000 minutes of Premier League football. Considering the lack of quality and structure in that Magpies squad, his record is an impressive one.

Rafa Benitez was a huge fan of the winger after he took over as manager and he was keen to keep him at the club after relegation. The Spaniard then tried to sign him in January, but the board were unwilling to sanction a deal.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

However, during the two years since his exit, Matt Ritchie has emerged as a key player for the club and his departure would be felt on and off the pitch. The Scottish international has scored 15 goals and contributed a further 12 assists in the league for Newcastle.

His influence decreased in the Premier League, but he continued to work hard and helped the team to a top-half finish. In addition to his attacking quality, he is a leader and a great influence in the dressing room. It would be doubtful that Townsend could replace what he offers off the pitch.

Since leaving Newcastle, Townsend has hardly set the world alight at Crystal Palace. He has had two decent seasons, but his contribution in the final third remains modest. He has scored five goals and contributed 11 assists for the Eagles across two seasons. If the finances being reported are to be believed, Benitez will want more consistency from the winger.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The interest in both Townsend and Ritchie has been widely reported across the media. For Newcastle, they would be bringing back a player they sold two years ago and although he left against their will, it doesn’t show a lot of ambition. They finished in the top ten and are now targeting a player that left after relegation. If he is their main target for the summer, questions need to be asked about their ambition.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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Crystal Palace

“I want £267 million for Wilf”: Crystal Palace fans react to Richarlison’s reported fee

The Brazilian looks set for a £50 million move to Everton.

Max Cohen

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Richarlison
Photo: Getty Images

On Friday, BBC Sport reported that Everton were closing in on signing Watford winger Richarlison for a fee that could rise to a total of £50 million.

The news of the fee immediately caught the eye of Crystal Palace supporters, who have been embroiled in a high-stakes transfer saga of their own with Everton.

The Toffees have been a club consistently linked with Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, leading Eagles supporters to scoff at the price attached to Richarlison.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

For many Palace fans, the 21-year-old Brazilian is being overpriced, leading them to value Zaha much higher than the £70 million asking price the south London club had established.

A comparison of the two wingers proves that it is a valid point, as Richarlison has just one year’s experience in the Premier League and is enduring a run of poor form, with his last goal coming in November and his last assist coming in December.

Zaha, on the other hand, is a seasoned Premier League performed and enjoyed a stellar 2017/18 season with nine goals and five assists, despite missing nine matches through injury.

Popular Palace fansite HLTCO seized on this disparity, offering a revised transfer fee for Zaha in light of the Richarlison deal.

Richarlison’s meagre goal-scoring tally was also brought up when marvelling at his transfer fee.

Another Eagles supporter offered up perhaps a more reasonable price for the club’s prized Ivory Coast international.

The confusion over the inflated price was best summed up by a quick recap of Richarlison’s transfer history.

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Crystal Palace

The media obsession with Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha should be ignored

The winger is being heavily linked with a move away from Selhurst Park.

Max Cohen

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Wilfried Zaha
Photo: Getty Images

Ask any Crystal Palace fan their least favourite part of the summer, and one answer will stand out: the endless media obsession about the future of Wilfried Zaha.

After further reports in The Times, Mirror, and The Sun linking the Ivory Coast international with a move away from Selhurst Park, Palace supporters should tune out the noise and focus on the facts of the matter.

Zaha is currently under contract at Selhurst Park, having signed a five-year deal just over a year ago. Despite the rumoured interest from the likes of Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Borussia Dortmund, Crystal Palace hold all the cards in the situation.

And, to add to their strong position, manager Roy Hodgson has made it very clear he has no intention of selling the winger when speaking to football.london last week:

“What people seem to forget with Wilf is he has got a four-year contract. There is speculation every year around Messi and Ronaldo too. He is our player for the next four years and the club has got no interest or desire to sell him.”

(during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park on May 13, 2018 in London, England.

This strong statement from the Palace manager is the only thing that holds significance with regards to the Zaha saga. At the end of the day, there can be as much speculation and interest from clubs as possible, but if the club is not willing to sell then the player will stay put.

Additionally, the reports that Zaha is unsettled at Palace seem like nothing more than sensational claims. This is a player who expressed his love for the fans and the club as recently as April, talking to the Eagles’ official website after a win against Brighton.

“Crystal Palace is my home town and the support we have here is genuine support with families watching with their kids loving us as players so I don’t really see myself anywhere else.”

In all, one must focus on what is relevant in the Wilfried Zaha transfer saga: the actual words of the figures involved.

With Zaha expressing his happiness and Hodgson making it clear no sale is forthcoming, the media obsession over the winger’s Selhurst Park exit appears unfounded.

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Khouma Babacar would be underwhelming solution to Crystal Palace’s striker problem

The 25-year-old isn’t exactly a prolific goalscorer.

Max Cohen

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Babacar
Photo: Getty Images

According to the Mirror, Crystal Palace are close to completing a £12 million move for Sassuolo striker Khouma Babacar.

The Senegalese forward scored just six goals in the league last season and would represent an underwhelming solution to Crystal Palace’s striker problem.

Last season, the Eagles struggled massively for goals, with only central midfielder Luka Milivojevic reaching double figures in the league. As for strikers, Christian Benteke scored just three goals in a hugely disappointing year, and Alexander Sorloth failed to score in his four appearances.

It is clear the south Londoners desperately need a prolific centre-forward in order to succeed in 2018/19, yet Babacar simply is not the right choice.

(Photo by Mario Carlini / Iguana Press/Getty Images)

At 25 years of age, he has already been around Italian football for a long time, making his debut for Fiorentina in 2009 as a 16-year-old. Yet he struggled to nail down a starting spot and spent time on loan in Serie B and La Liga before enjoying a breakout season for Fiorentina 2016/17.

In that year, he banged in 10 goals in 22 league appearances while also netting four times in the Europa League. Yet disappointingly, he scored just four times in the first half of 2017/18, before being shipped off to Sassuolo on loan where he found the net on just two occasions in 13 appearances.

Far from an outstanding goalscorer in Italy, it is unclear where Babacar would fit in at Palace, and it is unlikely he could turn around the fortunes of the club’s struggling strike force.

Roy Hodgson would do well to pass on the signing of the £12 million Senegalese international and focus his efforts on a more proven striker with a better goal record.

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