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Matt Ritchie set to follow Dwight Gayle out of Newcastle – 3rd and 4th 2016/17 promotion players to go

3 weeks ago
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Matt Ritchie looks set to be yet another of the class of 2016/17 to finally leave St James’ Park.

The summer of 2016 saw Rafa Benitez pretty much having to entirely rebuild the Newcastle United squad, with a promotion challenge ahead.

There were plenty of rats leaving the sinking ship after relegation, whilst many others needed to leave after showing they didn’t have what was needed to be part of the revival. Fortunately, a big help was the fact that a fair few players were set to be out of contract anyway.

Rafa’s wheeling and dealing saw him bring in 12 new players in summer 2016, as well as delivering a net £40m profit from that transfer window.

Ciaran Clark and Isaac Hayden were two of the dozen new recruits that summer, they have both already moved out of St James’ Park this summer.

Dwight Gayle is set to be announced as a Stoke City player any time now, whilst Matt Ritchie is set to make it a quartet of the class of 2016/17, now moving on.

Eddie Howe signed Matt Ritchie for £400,000 back in January 2013 when he was Bournemouth, with Rafa Benitez then splashing out £12m three and a half years later.

Reality will probably be that Matt Ritchie leaves for nothing (he turns 33 in September) and Newcastle will very likely even have to subsidise his wages, however, NUFC have had their money’s worth these past six years.

Eddie Howe has been speaking ahead of Ritchie’s very likely departure ( where he goes, remains to be seen) and whilst the NUFC boss talks of wanting Matt Ritchie to stick around, this surely is a parting of the ways.

Eddie Howe gave Matt Ritchie three early starts in late 2021 but after 19 December 2021, there were only 17 Premier League minutes more for Ritchie last season across two sub appearances, as Howe reinvigorated the team / squad.

One of those sub appearances was a single minute on the last day of the season at Burnley, some people thinking it was maybe a token goodbye moment for Matt Ritchie, though Eddie Howe says different now:

“It wasn’t farewell, or intentional, from my side.

“I think it is well documented my relationship with Matty, we go far back and the respect for him I have as a person.

“He ha been incredible for me.”

“Matty’s own personal situation, he will have his own thoughts.

“Mine is to try and keep him but it is well documented that Matty has been away from his family for a long period of time.

“He loves playing for Newcastle and is very passionate about the club, but I think…it’s unclear what direction we’ll take this year…but from both sides, there’s a lot of respect.”

With seven permanent signings made already in 2022 and almost certainly others to come in this window, this is going to be a Newcastle United team and squad transformed.

If you look at it honestly, whilst Matt Ritchie was kept involved as a regular member of the matchday squad in the second half of last season, even with being able to name nine subs in the upcoming Premier League campaign, I think Ritchie would struggle to make the cut.

Matt Ritchie’s family stayed on the south coast, as Eddie Howe refers to with his mention of the player’s situation, so hopefully he can get fixed up with a decent Championship club within easyish reach of his family home.

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