According to The Times’ Paul Joyce, Rafa Benitez is close to making Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray his first two signings as Everton manager.
Benitez got the best out of Townsend during the winger’s brief spell at St James’ Park, with him bagging three goals and two assists in nine end-of-season starts under the Spaniard.
Five years later, he’s now a free agent following his release from Crystal Palace and looks set to join Everton along with Demarai Gray – another wide man we were regularly linked with during Rafa’s time on Tyneside.
Joyce reports that the former Leicester talent is closing in on a £1.5m move from Bayer Levekusen – making this a potential bargain given he is still only 25 and has impressed since joining the Bundesliga side.
The Chronicle and The Evening Standard have both credited us with an interest in Townsend this summer, while a cut-price move for Gray is surely a deal we should’ve been all over given our limited budget and lack of natural options out wide. options.
It’s a funny one – neither were ever going to pick this Newcastle United under Steve Bruce over an ambitious Everton and Rafa Benitez, but I also believe this is a double signing that won’t go down all that well on Merseyside.
It’s a level below the sort of big-money business they’ve conducted in past windows, yet that could be part of the plan before they pull a few high-profile signings out of the bag.
Another player who looks set to sign is former Stoke stopper Asmir Begovic, with the 34-year-old expected to be a back-up option to Jordan Pickford.