Once it became clear that Everton were interested in his services, Andros Townsend was never going to go anywhere else.
Having not been offered a new contract at Crystal Palace, he wasn’t short of offers from elsewhere, but once Rafa Benitez made his intentions clear, it was always going to be the Toffees that were going to win that particular race.
That’s because, although the previous time the pair worked together at Newcastle was fleeting – Townsend played just 10 games for the Magpies under the Spaniard – he enjoyed the fact that there was a non-stop pressure to improve.
“He [Benitez] doesn’t stop. Whether you’ve had a good game, a bad game or an indifferent game, he always wants you to improve,” Townsend told the Liverpool ECHO via a Zoom call from Everton’s training ground.
“That spell at Newcastle, I scored three goals in 10 games [under him], but on a Monday morning he would come in and tell me what I didn’t do well. ‘You need to get in the box more, you need to come inside more, you need to run in behind more.’
“As a winger you need that constant pressure of having to improve your game. If you keep playing well, sometimes you can rest on your laurels, but with Rafa he is so full on he doesn’t allow you the rest of your laurels, he keeps improving you, day by day, until he gets what he wants.”
Though he’s no youngster any longer, Townsend’s experience will be vital for Everton as they look to re-establish themselves as a Premier League force once more.
Were they to do just that, it’s clear that it’s Benitez that should be the one to take the credit.