Matt Ritchie confirms West Ham interest and how Scotland saved the day
Matt Ritchie has revealed how both West Ham and Scotland played key parts in his eventual move to Tyneside.
The Newcastle winger confirms that the Hammers did make an approach to Bournemouth but after initial talks between the clubs, thankfully West Ham decided not to progress the deal. Matt Ritchie saying he was flattered by the London club’s interest.
Following the end of the Premier League season, the then Bournemouth player headed off to link up with Scotland.
Matt Ritchie starting both matches as Scotland provided the opposition for two of the Euro 2016 favourites, Italy winning 1-0 and France overcoming the Scots 3-0.
Whilst it was two defeats for Ritchie and his international team-mates, the matches were good news for Newcastle United.
Talks about a new contract at Bournemouth had been put on hold whilst Matt Ritchie was on international duty, so when he returned to the south coast he then discovered Newcastle’s interest before committing to a longer stay with the Cherries.
You can’t say for sure but it appears that if Bournemouth and the player had got as far as completing that new deal which had been interrupted by international commitments, then a move to Newcastle and the Championship would have almost certainly not happened.
Whilst Matt Ritchie’s move to Newcastle didn’t happen until early July, it appears that United accepted Andros Townsend was leaving early in June when they first approached Bournemouth about the player’s availability.
The departure of Townsend could have been a massive blow for Newcastle fans but a lot of credit needs to go to Rafa Benitez for managing the situation superbly, the instant replacement with Matt Ritchie meaning Newcastle supporters took Andros Townsend’s betrayal in their stride.
Matt Ritchie talking to BBC Radio Solent:
“It is going to be a really exciting season and something I really want to be part of.
“As soon as I heard, it was something that excited me…
“The size of the football club, the manager and when you look a bit deeper, the squad we have got.”
“I’m sure if the offer (of a new contract) had come at a different time, or if I’d come back from Scotland duty with no interest from other clubs, there would’ve been some sort of agreement.
“I think it was flattering (West Ham made initial contact about potential transfer), but, nothing came of it.
“I was working hard as if I was coming back to Bournemouth (from international duty with Scotland) and had nothing else on my mind.
“But when things do come up and you hear of interest from other clubs, you have to deal with it and that’s football.
“When a club like Newcastle is interested, I wanted to pursue it – I’m delighted to be here, it is a fantastic club.”
Bournemouth and Eddie Howe for England:
“I’ve got to thank everyone there (at Bournemouth), I’ll probably never get memories like that again, certainly in the way we got promoted twice (from League One and Championship). I’ll cherish those and I certainly won’t forget them.
“The manager and the lads were fantastic with me. I’ve become a better player since I first arrived there.
“I back him (Eddie How) to have an incredible managerial career, whether the England job is something he would want to take right now, I’m not too sure.
“He’s certainly got the skills and potential to be a top, top manager and England would fit that criteria.
“I’m sure he’ll have his own agenda but his future is bright.”
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