It had been well documented that Stoke City were in talks and seemed pretty serious about signing Ritchie as they attempt to bounce back at the first attempt – however it looks like Gary Rowett has now looked elsewhere.
Last week, Sky Sports claimed Ritchie was in ‘advanced talks’ with Stoke and involved in a transfer merry go round that would see Newcastle sign Townsend, Palace get Antonio and Stoke sign Ritchie.
However, momentum on this seems to have stalled since talk of their bid and suggestions that Rafa would cash in IF his sale could fund a move for Palace’s Andros Townsend.
Fortunately, Stoke appear to have moved on and are all set to confirm the £10m signing of Huddersfield’s Tom Ince – having also confirmed the signing of West Brom’s James McClean yesterday – both wingers.
? TRANSFER CENTRE ?
After signing James McClean from West Brom, Stoke have agreed a £10m fee for Huddersfield's Tom Ince.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) July 22, 2018
It could be that Rafa is now unwilling to sell. He won’t have actually wanted to sell him in the first place and probably only considered it on the basis it would fund a move for Townsend, however it seems his lack of faith in the board made him re-think that one. Why would he sanction the sale of one of our fan favourites and most influential players when he could not guarantee that the board would go all out to secure Townsend? Even if things were lined up, it’d be a huge risk as we are so slow to get deals done.
If Ritchie had been sold and the board messed up the Townsend deal? It would really see our summer stoop to a new low.
Whilst we are desperately seeking new arrivals and Townsend is a really good player, it is also worth considering the dressing room as well. Would we really want to swap the man who dropped down to the Championship when we were struggling for the man who jumped ship that same summer? Richie has his flaws, undoubtedly lacks a bit of pace, but towards the end of the season he was looking back to his best.
The real sorry state is that a club like Newcastle should be able to sign Townsend and also keep Ritchie, money should not be so tight that we make the choice. The fans and manager deserve better than that this summer and we have three weeks to get it.