Eyebrows were raised when Matt Ritchie was willing to swap Premier League football for Championship Newcastle United.

After playing such a key role in the rise of Bournemouth from League One to a very successful/comfortable first season in the Premier League, you would have thought the south coast club would have been desperate to keep the winger.

Which turns out to have been exactly the case.

Rather than being happy to bank the reported £12m transfer fee, Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe says they did everything they could to try and keep Matt Ritchie.

Howe has revealed that they offered the winger a new and improved deal but he turned it down in favour of a move.

Describing Ritchie as ‘an integral part of our success’, the Bournemouth Manager claims that the way the transfer worked, was that Matt Ritchie turned down a new contract and then they received a bid from Newcastle.

Difficult to believe that the two things weren’t linked, as Rafa Benitez must have always known that Andros Townsend was likely to desert Newcastle after insisting on a release clause to allow him to leave in the event of relegation.

Either way, it is a great lift for Newcastle fans to see a player of Matt Ritchie’s ability to see the potential at United under Rafa Benitez, especially as there undoubtedly would have been a number of other Premier League clubs ready to take on somebody with his creativity and goalscoring ability from the wing.

Eddie Howe speaking to the Daily Echo:

“We were very sad to see Matty go. He has been an integral part of our success over a long time and has been an incredible servant to this football club.

“We leave on very good terms but the sequence of events this summer was that we offered Matty a new contract, he turned that down and expressed a desire to leave. We then got a bid from Newcastle.

“It’s always sad when a player who has done so well for the club leaves. Matty wanted to pursue his career elsewhere and he leaves with our best wishes.

“I had a great relationship with him and enjoyed working with him greatly. He has an incredible appetite and desire towards football. He wants to progress and epitomised the improvement in the group.

“When you compare his overall game from when he arrived to when he left I think he leaves a much-improved player, and I think that is largely down to his mentality for self-improvement.

“He scored a number of crucial goals for us and epitomised our play off the ball a lot of the time, because of his work rate and his appetite to press and close down.”