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Why Watford pulled out of Andros Townsend race

Watford have withdrawn from the running to sign Andros Townsend, refusing to be drawn into a bidding war and making an injudicious long-term financial commitment. Watford, as we reported on Sunday, felt they were in pole position to sign the England winger after talks with the player and his representative over the weekend. The victory over Newcastle United only strengthened that belief. Senior club officials who had already tabled a bid in excess of 10.5m, were braced for the deal to go right down to the final day of the window.

However, Newcastle, who saw their relegation fears exacerbated by defeat at Vicarage Road, have significantly pushed the boat out to land Townsend. We are told the Magpies have tempted the winger with an eye-watering salary offer, one that would smash Watford’s pay structure, and a much longer contract than Watford were prepared to agree on. We also understand there are clauses inserted into the bumper deal at St James’ Park that would enable Townsend to leave if the club are relegated and also if a top six club bids for him in the summer. Watford only want players who are here for the long haul.

Although only a few players are around from Townsend’s loan spell at Vicarage Road in 2011 there were reservations among some about his application and attitude during that period, one that was cut short by Malky Mackay. The decision to withdraw from the running to sign Townsend is the second time in a month the club have not bowed to the demands of a winger. The Hornets pulled out of a deal to sign Juan Manuel Iturbe at the end of December following face-to-face talks with the player.

Watford, we have been told in the last hour, are not at this stage looking to pursue a deal for another winger, ruling out moves for Jefferson Montero and Matty Phillips. They are confident club record signing Nordin Amrabat can play on the wing and as a central striker.