Why Newcastle must fight Stoke and Middlesbrough to retain Matt Ritchie
Ritchie, 28, cost Newcastle £12million from Bournemouth two years ago and manager Rafael Benitez might be open to the prospect of selling him this summer in order to generate some funds in the transfer market.
Regardless of traction from Championship clubs, the Magpies must simply hold onto the Scottish winger, who has been a hit since arriving at St.James’ Park.
With Ritchie’s record in the Championship, it is unsurprising to see clubs like Stoke and Middlesbrough vying to land him. He was instrumental in Newcastle’s Championship title win in the 2016/17 season, scoring 12 goals and supplying seven assists. In addition to that, Ritchie’s contributions during Bournemouth’s promotion in the 2014/15 season were stellar with 15 goals and 17 assists.
Since joining the Magpies in 2016, the Scotsman has been an integral member of Rafael Benitez’s squad over the course of the past two seasons. He has settled in well at St.James’ Park and has been an influential player for the club, despite the fact that he only contributed three goals and five assists last season.
Indeed, the figures have drastically fallen this past season but Ritchie remains a popular figure amongst the Newcastle supporters. He may not be a star figure or a weekly headline-maker but his tireless approach and energy to fight for the team’s ambitions have endeared him to the fans.
One might argue that Benitez needs to offload him to generate funds for the ongoing transfer window but players like Ritchie deserve massive respect and should be retained at all costs.
Ritchie is just 28 and has a lot to offer in the Premier League. Benitez’s impact on the players is crystal clear and Ritchie has improved considerably under his guidance. In fact, Ritchie is one of Benitez’s better signings since the former Liverpool boss took charge of the club.
So, Newcastle would be absolutely insane to let Ritchie go this summer.