Eddie Howe has been asked about the future of Matt Ritchie this week, and his answer was pretty telling.
Ideally, the boss would like to keep the 32-year-old on Tyneside, however it seems the player is keen to return closer to loves ones down South.
Howe states that he has “been away from his family for a long period of time” and accepts that it’s “unclear” what direction he’ll go in over the coming weeks.
Ritchie is a player he knows well from their time together at Bournemouth. He’s clearly a respected figure at the club and loud voice in the dressing room, but Howe’s comments suggest a move away could be on the cards.
Here’s what Howe had to say when asked about Ritchie’s future:
“I think it’s well documented my relationship with Matty, we go so far back.
“The respect for him I have as a person – he’s been incredible for me.
“Matty’s own personal situation he will have his own thoughts.
“Mine is to try and keep him but it’s well documented that Matty has been a way 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.”
If Ritchie is keen to be back with family then who could begrudge him a move, especially now he’s no longer part of our first-team plans.
He’s only managed 16 minutes of action in 2022 and is someone – for me – who’d only be kept on for his influence off the pitch, so it could make sense for all parties if a suitable buyer emerges.