With Newcastle fans waiting for news of incoming players, it was a bit of a surprise/shock when instead it was claimed Matt Ritchie is set to leave.
No player made more first team appearances last season for Newcastle United, the winger starting 32 and coming off the bench three times.
As surprising as the news of Ritchie potentially leaving, the possible destination(s) were equally unexpected.
It was John Percy (who is usually very reliable) at The Telegraph who first broke the story, stating that talks had already taken place between Newcastle and both Stoke & Middlesbrough.
Much talk has followed since that transfer exclusive and Matt Ritchie (maybe) leaving, has now been tied in with it potentially helping to fund deals for Andros Townsend and/or Kenedy.
Any departure happening for purely football reasons didn’t/doesn’t really ring true for either club or player. In a poll in May (see below) we asked Newcastle fans which players should Rafa definitely keep for next season, an overwhelming 94% wanted to retain Matt Ritchie, with only three players getting higher support.
However, news from the Stoke end of things has given a plausible reason as to why a move may be in the offing.
Not normally bothering with transfer gossip, the most popular Stoke Fans TV YouTube channel ‘The Bear Pit TV’, say that they have been told that Ritchie’s motivation for the move is because he wants to ‘move closer to family’ after two years at Newcastle.
The source telling them that ‘Matt Ritchie has agreed a contract with Stoke and Newcastle have accepted our offer’, with the transfer to be officially announced when the winger returns from holiday.
As explained above, this Stoke fans TV channel doesn’t usually go for transfer speculation and the same source told them Joselu was moving to Newcastle (and they published it), a couple of days before anything was reported in the newspapers.
Whatever the reasons, it does feel as though Matt Ritchie is set to move on with the media coverage growing.
A player who did very well for Newcastle United and who the club are set to make a (small) profit on, nothing negative about his time at St James Park or indeed his departure IF any replacement proves to produce more than the Scottish international in the Premier League.
The Bear Pit TV:
“We’ve been informed that Matt Ritchie has agreed a contract with Stoke and Newcastle have accepted our offer
“He was looking to move closer to family and will be announced once he returns from holiday in Dubai next week.”
The Mag – 20 May 2018:
We asked fans which Newcastle players should Rafa definitely keep for 2018/19 season?
All results were rounded up/down to the nearest whole percentage point (fans could vote for as many players as they wanted to):
99% Jonjo Shelvey
98% Jamaal Lascelles
95% Florian Lejeune
94% Matt Ritchie
92% Mohamed Diame
90% Paul Dummett
90% DeAndre Yedlin
86% Ayoze Perez
84% Mikel Merino
70% Jacob Murphy
61% Christian Atsu
54% Ciaran Clark
50% Isaac Hayden
37% Karl Darlow
25% Rob Elliot
23% Dwight Gayle
19% Rolando Aarons
12% Chancel Mbemba
9% Javier Manquillo
5% Henri Saivet
3% Matz Sels
2% Achraf Lazaar
2% Jack Colback