Andros Townsend could have lined up for the Champions League anthem this season, but the desire to continue to prove himself in the Premier League instead drove the winger to Everton, even though he knew the Goodison loyalists Park might be disappointed with his arrival.
After five years with Crystal Palace, free agent Townsend had an offer to play European football in Turkey, but turned it down to reunite with Rafael Benitez, his former boss at Newcastle and newly installed with the Toffees.
So far, the move has paid off both for the player and for fans who may have been skeptical initially, with Townsend enjoying one of the most productive forms of his career.
Five goals in all competitions this campaign are more than the 30-year-old has scored in his last two seasons at Crystal Palace combined and although he has only played 12 games, the former England international has only scored than twice as much in a single mandate.
But while Everton might get the most out of Townsend, the player has yet to really see the best of the Toffees as they struggled after an initially promising start to the season.
Townsend could be the key to reversing their current slump when they host his childhood team, Tottenham, on Sunday.
The widely traveled forward took the scenic route to the blue side of Merseyside, rose through the ranks at Spurs and was on loan nine times before making his debut in White Hart Lane’s first team.
His best North London season in terms of minutes came in 2013-14 under Andre Villas-Boas and then Tim Sherwood, playing 25 times in the league and scoring on his England debut against Montenegro at Wembley.
But this season also saw a hamstring injury that would rob Townsend of his explosive pace. He explained how this forced him to adapt his game.
There were opportunities under Mauricio Pochettino, but playing time for the enigmatic wide man became scarce and Townsend’s Spurs career came to an end following an argument with the club’s fitness coach, this for which the player then apologized.
It was for Benitez at Newcastle that Townsend reached his peak of form, but the pair were unable to save the Magpies from falling and he joined Crystal Palace in 2016, serving as an important player until expiration. of his contract this summer.
Amidst the stranger’s interest, he jumped at the chance to reunite with the Benitez, though he initially thought his agent was joking when told that Everton was interested.
“This is not an opportunity I expected,” Townsend said in an interview with the club’s YouTube channel.
“I was desperately looking for another chance in the Premier League to prove what I could do.
“I knew the fans didn’t want me back then, I knew they were more ambitious and wanted to spend an ‘X’ amount on stars, but I knew I didn’t mind.”
So far, the reunion with Benitez has proven to be golden for the midfielder, even though Everton have lost three games in a row in the Premier League.
Townsend is enjoying his best minutes-per-goal ratio and second-best minutes per assist ratio in his top-flight career, as he creates an average chance every 36 minutes, also a career-high.
The long-range town crier is still part of Townsend’s arsenal, scoring the September goal in Everton’s 3-1 win over Burnley and crediting mum Katerina for sending him a video compilation of her best shots at the prior.
But Townsend says he’s also worked on scoring “ugliest ones that get you 10 or 15 per season” and “getting into the six-yard box or following play on a counterattack and trusting. to my teammates to find me “.
He did just that in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, ending a searing break, and that followed a discussion with Everton goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly analyzing United stopper David de Gea.
This season, the player dribbles less than in any previous campaign and also had to adapt his game when Everton’s side were strained by injury issues.
In Monday’s 2-1 loss to Wolves, after his side’s scorching first half in which Townsend started on the right and only had 14 touches, he was used more centrally, had 38 touches and created twice as many chances as any other player on the pitch. .
Injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin was in the Sky Sports studio to watch rather than on the pitch and, as specialist Jamie Carragher said, the Everton forward would surely have benefited this season from the creativity of newcomer Townsend and Demarai Gray.
The trio are Everton’s leading Premier League scorer with three apiece, although Calvert-Lewin have only played three games, but their last victory came against Norwich in September.
Townsend scored there that day and the challenge now is to maintain his form and make it his most prolific season to date – doubling for the first time in a Premier League campaign and signing the case will have more than proved its value.