Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez has added fuel to the Andros Townsend transfer saga by admitting that he still likes the ex-Magpie.
Townsend has been linked with a move back to Tyneside and is reportedly keen on a move back to the North East this month, after failing to make an impact at Crystal Palace - the club he left United for in the summer. Benitez produced his best efforts to try and persuade the 25-year-old to stay and play his trade at St James' Park, though the ex-Tottenham Hotspur winger was swayed by the chance to stay in the Premier League by Palace.
Bring him home
The Geordies were left disappointed by Townsend's decision to depart, so soon after quickly announcing himself as a fans' favourite. Still, it seems that majority of Newcastle fans would welcome a Townsend move back to Tyneside as their pursuit to win promotion looks very much on.
Latest developments on this ongoing saga is that a deal could in fact be struck, a deal that involves Chancel Mbemba.
I like Andros - Benitez
Speculation of a move for Townsend was brought to the attention of supporters last week when the Toon Army were reportedly keen on a loan deal for Townsend.
As momentum began to build, rumours came to a haul a few days ago with the Seagulls apparently dismissive of a loan deal. Palace boss Sam Allardyce also questioned earlier on Friday why he would allow players to leave on loan.
However, Benitez's comments in his pre-match press conference for their FA Cup fourth round tie with Oxford United on Saturday, has sparked hope for those who would welcome Townsend back to United.
The 56-year-old boss said: "You know I like Andros, but at the moment, no news."
Newcastle have already openly admitted that they made a move a temporary for Swansea City winger, Modou Barrow, where Benitez says he needs to find someone who will give his side "some balance".
The latest - deal rests on Chancel Mbemba?
Reports coming from the Times say that Allardyce is interested in bringing in United centre-back Mbemba on loan.
After establishing himself as arguably Newcastle's best defender last season, Mbemba has only featured once for the Magpies in the Championship since September, with Benitez favouriting a Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark partnership.
With Grant Hanley and the emerging Stuart Findlay acting as cover for any defensive injuries, Benitez may let the out-of-favour Mbemba go, if it means gaining Townsend in return.
All rumours are ifs and buts, though it remains certain that the Magpies want Townsend back. It's a deal that could go down to the wire.