Tuesday, April 9, 2013

QPR's Townsend, the £40 million man

When they loaned Andros Townsend to QPR in late January, Tottenham Hotspur sat fourth in the Premiership and could be well satisfied with their past two months.  After taking nineteen points from a possible thirty, they looked forward to a February facing strictly mid-table clubs.

With Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon offering a pincer attack in outstanding form – and Clint Dempsey, Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson available as well – the club presumably felt they could afford the luxury of allowing the youngster to grow by playing Premier League football regularly.
Townsend, 21, might actually cost Spurs more than anticipated.

He has become – without question – Rangers’ most important player; moreover, he has shown why Harry Redknapp (who, curiously, largely ignored him while at Spurs) took him on a rental across London.  Over the past month Townsend has been the dominant player in the Premiership, regularly beating opponents for pace and guile before swinging crosses into threatening positions. 

His seven games in hoops have borne out two scores, an assist and three Player of the Match nods in his past four matches.  The streak has left him, according to the reputable WhoScored.com, with a cumulative Player Rating for his QPR spell of a stratospheric 7.83.

Left backs both experienced and fleet-of-foot have been preyed upon: his Loftus Road locker boasts the heads of Javier Garrido, Rafael, Danny Rose, Matthew Lowton, John Arne Riise and most recently, Maynor Figueroa.

While hard to fathom after a gut-wrenching draw on the weekend, Townsend could prove the difference between the Hoops’ survival and relegation.  Should Rs stay up – and save owner Tony Fernandes  at least £25 million – it will be on Townsend’s back.

Although figures that size aren’t to be sniffed at, Townsend’s true value might be felt more by his parent club.  Since rising to third in the league in February, Spurs have struggled to cement entry into next year’s Champions League.  While a lack of strikers has been implicit to this shakiness, the team has struggled more since the loss of Lennon – and now Bale – to injury.

Neither Dempsey nor Sigurdsson are as inclined to create for others as for themselves, meaning forward thrusts at White Hart Lane – and, more crucially, away from home – have lacked the incision and penetration of the past six months.  This has only been compounded by the Bale-shaped void on the left wing.  The impetus that marked Spurs’ outstanding form of early 2013 is obvious for its absence.

Should Spurs falter further in the season’s waning weeks, they risk the riches of Europe’s premier competition – which is where missing Townsend really begins to hurt.  Although estimates vary, Champions League group-stage entrants can expect to receive windfalls of a minimum £16 million plus income from extra home games.  Clubs who progress to the Elimination stages could stand to collect up to another £25 million. 

Should Spurs’ absent forwards mean they finish out of UCL contention while Townsend leads Rangers to an unlikely continued existence in the top division, the net turnaround could be as much as £42 million.  While no-one was to know Townsend was capable of replicating his QPR form with Tottenham – the game of “What if” is appropriate only in MathNet – this swing puts him alongside a certain other West Londoner as the only Premiership players worth over £40 million.

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