New Crystal Palace signing Andros Townsend has said that the club’s affinity towards exciting wingers helped sway his decision to join the Eagles from Newcastle United.
The England wide man put pen to paper on a five-year deal to become Palace’s first signing of the summer for £13 million after weighing up his options following the Magpies’ relegation from the top-flight in May.
Having seen the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon flourish at Selhurst Park in recent years, the 24-year-old opted to return to his native London to work alongside the dynamic trio under the tutelage of Alan Pardew.
Moments after inking his new Eagles contract, Townsend said: “I'm extremely delighted. I had chats with the manager and chairman before I signed and I'm pleased to a part of Crystal Palace's future. By the sounds of things it's going to be a bright one and I can't wait to get started.
“I’ve known of the interest for a couple of weeks. It was an extremely difficult decision to leave Newcastle and it took me about a month or so, but when I decided that I wanted to go it was about finding the best opportunity for me at this stage of my career.
“It was a pretty easy decision to choose Crystal Palace because of the direction they’re heading. They play a system that suits wingers and you only need to look at Wilfried Zaha, Yannick Bolasie and Jason Puncheon to see how they’ve excelled and how influential they are for Palace. I want to be a part of that and help this club reach its potential.”
Townsend quickly became a fan favourite at St James’ Park with a series of energetic performances which endeared him to the Toon Army after arriving from Tottenham Hotspur in January. However despite his best efforts the Magpies slipped into the Championship, and having tasted top-flight football again the 11-time capped England midfielder knew he had a tough decision to make, but was full of praise for the supporters he leaves behind.
“I had only been at Newcastle for a short space of time but the fans got behind me and made me feel really loved, which I’d not had for a long time in my career,” he admitted. “They made me feel at home straight away and made the decision a lot more difficult.
“But having played Premier League football again and enjoying the best run of games I’ve had in the division for a number of years I can’t wait to get going again in a Palace shirt. If I can play to my potential and the level I did at Newcastle then I’m sure I’ll be alright. Hopefully I can get the Palace fans on board as quickly as I did the Newcastle fans.”
While one new face comes into Selhurst Park, one departs in the form of Dwight Gayle who has made a separate move to Tyneside, and Townsend admitted he spoke to the striker before finally opting for the Eagles.
After receiving a positive recommendation and with pre-season training starting on Monday, he is looking forward to getting into the thick of things in his new surroundings as he battles for one of the wing berths.
“I spoke to Dwight Gayle a few days ago and he mentioned nothing but good things about the club, the fans and the manager so it was nice to hear from him,” Townsend continued. “I was pretty much sold on the decision anyway but it always helps hearing nice things about the club.
“It’s no secret that Crystal Palace’s best players play on the wing but that can only make me a better player. When you have competition it brings out the best in you and hopefully I’ll bring out the best in them as well.
“I’ve been working hard throughout the summer and went out to Spain with a fitness coach so now I can’t wait to get going.”