According to Miles Starforth, Rafa Benitez does NOT want to sell Matt Ritchie this summer, but he’s been told that he’ll have to if he wants to bring Andros Townsend back to the club – a reminder of Mike Ashley’s frustrating approach to transfers at NUFC.
The Palace winger is an obvious target of Benitez’s, being someone he reluctantly saw leave two years ago after relegation, and it seems he could be on his way back if we pay his alleged £17m asking price.
It sounds a fair price to me and a deal worth doing, but it seems Ashley’s only going to give Rafa the green light if he sells Matt Ritchie – something he’ll clearly be reluctant to do, yet a move he may be forced to make given his ‘limited transfer budget’.
Here’s what the Shields Gazette reporter has had to say on the unideal situation today:
“Rafa Benitez doesn’t want to sell Matt Ritchie this summer – but the winger could still be offloaded.
“Benitez – who yesterday re-signed Kenedy on loan – wants to bring Andros Townsend back to St James’s Park before the August 9 transfer deadline. Townsend, sold to Crystal Palace two years ago, could be available for £17million.
“Benitez, working with a limited transfer budget this summer, could finance a move for Towsnend by selling Ritchie, who is a target for Stoke City.”
An owner with ambition would sanction a £17m deal for Townsend and give Rafa what he wants, but it seems Mike Ashley has now backed Benitez into a corner as far as Townsend’s potential return is concerned.
Some may say that it wouldn’t work having Townsend and Ritchie both fighting for the same role out wide, but Benitez thrives on competition and having two capable players fighting it out for one place in the first team.
It shouldn’t be like this, but this is how we seem to work under Mike Ashley.
No doubt we’ll only see a striker sign once Ashley receives his £20m for Aleksandar Mitrovic, with him keener to balance our books than he is to back Benitez.