The 29-year-old has been brilliant recently, reinventing himself after being moved to left wing-back, and his comments about Rafa’s future are encouraging to say the least.
Here’s what Ritchie had to say when asked about the manager’s future, with him believing Benitez WILL sign a new deal – suggesting he has a hunch the Spaniard will stay:
“I think so.
“I don’t really want to talk about that because I don’t think we’re going to lose him,”
“I’m optimistic that he will stay; I hope he stays, everyone hopes he stays. There is no point talking about ifs and buts, as we don’t know yet, let’s just wait and see.”
He clearly doesn’t know exactly what’s going on – I don’t think anyone does – but he, like the press, may have picked up on Rafa’s positive demeanour in recent weeks, feeling he looks anything but a man ready to walk away in the coming weeks.
A meeting is expected to take place this week, with the presence of Mike Ashley and promises he can make likely to be key, however we must remember that Benitez said he’s held ‘positive talks’ just a few weeks ago, so it seems progress is being made.
The process has been dragged out in typical Mike Ashley style. It’s a situation that should’ve been sorted months ago, however Ritchie’s comments provide another source of optimism for us to hold onto between now and any official announcement.