International manager Alex McLeish has revealed (see below) that Matt Ritchie has told him he doesn’t want to be considered for the Scotland squad in the ‘foreseeable’ future.

The Scotland boss announcing his squad for the Nations League games against Albania and Israel, being quizzed by media as to why a winger playing regularly in the Premier League couldn’t make the national squad.

Alex McLeish explaining ‘Matt Ritchie wanted to be left out for the foreseeable future. It’s private. It’s not something for me to discuss.’

The international manager continuing: ‘I wanted Matt to come in but he has asked to be left out at the moment. He has not retired or anything. You don’t know everyone’s private life so you have to respect that. I think if you spoke to the people concerned you would be accommodating as well.’

I can’t help but feel this is linked to the media reports three months ago, when Newcastle fans were stunned to learn that Matt Ritchie allegedly wanted to leave.

The story was broken by The Telegraph that Stoke were prepared to pay £15m for the winger who has an astonishing goals and assists record in the Championship for Newcastle and Bournemouth, an ideal player to help them try to bounce back to the top tier at the first time of asking.

At the time it was said it was family reasons as to why Ritchie wanted to leave, wanting to move south to be ‘closer to family’.

However, The Chronicle then reported on 5 July that Rafa Benitez had knocked back a £15m offer from Stoke and wouldn’t be selling ‘unless he is handed a quality replacement.’

Considering the way the summer transfer window was turning out, little wonder the manager wouldn’t agree to the sale.

On the face of it, £15m for a winger who turned 29 in September and who had played the vast majority of his career outside the Premier League, looked good money.

The reality of course is that Rafa Benitez was already realising how ridiculous this transfer window would be, the club selling Mikel Merino for £10m and the manager only allowed 29 year old free transfer Ki Sung-yeung, whilst Aleksandar Mitrovic was sold for £22m (rising to £27m) but the manager blocked from spending anything like that, only £2m for loan striker Salomon Rondon.

Rafa knowing that Newcastle accepting a bid of £15m for Matt Ritchie would simply have meant him handed a few million for a bargain buy replacement or loan, rather than £15m+ to buy a proper signing that would have improved the first team.

At the time it was claimed that Rafa was prepared to sell Matt Ritchie if he got Andros Townsend as a replacement but no chance of Mike Ashley allowing that kind of money to be spent, regardless of selling players such as Mitrovic for big money.

In the here and now though, in Newcastle’s position every player who isn’t put at risk of injury on international duty and the strain of extra games, has to be seen as a bonus.

The Chronicle – 5 July 2018:

‘The Magpies aren’t keen on selling Matt Ritchie on the cheap despite a huge wage offer for the winger from Stoke.

An offer of £15million has been deemed as unacceptable by the Magpies and Rafa Benitez does not want to sell the Scotland international unless he is handed a quality replacement.”

Alex McLeish:

“We have factored in everything that could happen and we know what we have to do.

“I feel we have the players who can do it.

“I have trust in them.

Matt Ritchie wanted to be left out for the foreseeable future.

“It’s private. It’s not something for me to discuss.

“He had injury issues as well and, again, there is management of his injuries.

“I wanted Matt to come in but he has asked to be left out at the moment.

“He has not retired or anything.

“You don’t know everyone’s private life so you have to respect that.

“I think if you spoke to the people concerned you would be accommodating as well.”

  • Kenny

    I like Matt but his form along with a raft of others has disappeared, the whole squad needs a major overhaul but considering that King Rat is still here it`s not going to happen.
    a while back Al said £150m would sort it and he`s not far off the figure needed,
    the squad is a complete shambles

    • mentalman

      He’s not got the pace to be a top winger. I can see him being moved infield at some point

      • Kenny

        or moved on, i think Rafa would be willing to let him go but would he get a replacement that he wants, i think not

    • Billmag

      A canny few on here thought Al had lost his marbles, I think he asked for a similar amount when he had a meeting with fatty after he got relegated, he probably puked and keeled over then ordered Alan out never to come back.

  • Wor Lass

    He`s an absolute grafter but I`d like to see a bit more end product. £15 mill would have been a decent sum for him but Jackie`s right to point out that it wouldn`t have been added to any pot for a replacement.

    • Kenny

      Macron kicking you out next year

      • Wor Lass

        Got my Carte de Sejour – I`m sorted. His days are numbered, he`s even more unpopular than Hollande was.

        • Kenny

          i know he is

        • Rich Lawson

          Just been overtaken in the polls by Le Pen ? There’s that Mackem swing when every one was distracted by the USA elections.

  • Themoscow72

    Great player. We spent a lot of money on Murphy and Atsu and they no where in the same class as Ritchie. Would be a massive miss if he went.

    • Peaky

      Atsu isn’t even in a class at all I’m afraid… and pure 💩.

  • Realist

    Ritchie is the hardest grafter in that team. For his alone I respect what he does for the team but like the point below he needs more end product. I’d maybe see if we can shift him on in the summer and go for someone like James forrest from Celtic a player who I’ve always thought could do well in the prem and have wondered why no one has took a chance on him. Maybe put Ritchie into the deal. Money will be spent in the summer or jan even if rafa signs.

  • Cockneytrev

    If the money could have been spent on a replacement, I would have taken it, but as we all know, it would have went to ” House of Frazer “

    • Paul Patterson

      That Fraser bloke still isn’t fit eh?
      It’s ok, we will sell Ritchie either in January or the summer and Ashley will give our team a whole ‘New Look’.

      • Peaky

        Oh dear dear dear….”Next”…..😂

        • Danimal

          Maybe he’ll replace Matt Ritchie with Matt Allan.

          • Peaky

            😂😂😂 that’s won….cant beat that today..

  • Paul Patterson

    I think the plan was to sell Ritchie and bring back Townsend. However, with profits to be had, swapping a £15m player for someone similar, wasn’t on the cards . .

  • Billmag

    Love Matty’s passion and will to win but like everything at this club we need an upgrade in his position.

    • JohnnyH

      Sums it up perfectly

  • Peaky

    See Marks & Spencers’ are struggling a bit…..if only there was a real St Michael to step forward…..

    • Billmag

      Imagine Peaky every High St in the Country owned by the grotesque one, he’s like a fat vulture hovering over failing businesses.

      • Peaky

        Bet he would love to go high end fashion Bill…..Huge Boss……sorry Hugo…..😂

      • Danimal

        He’s creating one here.

        • Ron

          We weren’t failing until he stepped up!

        • Billmag


  • Mrkgw

    It would certainly seem that something is up as his form had dipped again recently. All will be revealed in time no doubt. Saying that, we are talking Newcastle and it’s akin to the secret service these days.

    • Billmag

      It’s a shame his form has dipped because we may not have been promoted without his contribution, personally I think that’s Matt’s level now unfortunately.

      • Mrkgw

        Definitely something up as we see glipses of ability from time to time. Personally, I think that he lacks pace as a wide man and would have liked to have seen him play in a central midfield role. Bit like Rob Lee those many years ago.

      • JohnnyH

        Maybe the situation at the club is getting to him, he does wear his heart on his sleeve. Other players are indifferent so long as they’re getting paid.

        • Billmag

          Could be mate.

  • KennySamsung

    Matt Ritchie comes into the average category but because we have some awful players at Newcastle he seems to be put into the good category for some reason. Let’s not overrate players and by the way why would anyone really want to play for Scotland? 😁

  • HarryHype59

    He doesn’t have the pace to be a decent quality wide player at EPL level. I would like to see Yedlin or Murphy tried in the side right side of midfield position as both have pace to burn.

    I would like to see Ritchie given a run in the problematic no 10 role. His work rate would cause opposition defences problems.

    In ideal world, he would be sold and the fee used to fund a better player. However, in Fat Mike’s current set up, any fee the club gets for him vanishes into MASH accounts.

  • Gallowgate1982

    I would want to leave for family reasons as well if i was substituted every week while others around me are utter tripe and have poor work rate.

  • Da Ca

    Think it’s more like he doesn’t like the Scotland manager

  • Rich Lawson

    If it keeps him fit and rested for us who cares the reason ?