Football Insider has published some interesting comments from former Scotland manager Alex McLeish on Newcastle winger Matt Ritchie.
The 61-year-old reckons Ritchie would be open to joining a club down south should the opportunity arise. Here’s what McLeish told Football Insider:
“I know Ritchie, I’ve spoken to Ritchie a few times and tried to get him to play regularly for Scotland but there was little I could do.
“I don’t want to discuss anybody’s private life, but I think his family did move back down south and he was kind of maybe looking to move back there to some club.
“He’s been very, very important to Newcastle and he’s fitted into the systems really well. Not only was he a dangerous winger but he played the wing-back position extremely well, he was taught that and he took it in and understood it and you’ve got a great asset there when you’ve got that.
“He’s been a real warrior for Newcastle, I would say, in the last few years but if his family are down south and it’s more of a personal thing, then perhaps it’s a really good move for him.
“You think Bournemouth would still be a force in the Championship to get back to the Premier League.”
There were reports last week that Newcastle were pursuing a Ritchie plus cash offer for Callum Wilson. However, if that is accurate, Newcastle didn’t waste any time once an agreement couldn’t be reached.
Rather Newcastle altered course and had a £20m bid accepted for Wilson. The club also hashed out personal terms very quickly to bring in a much-needed Premier League proven striker.
Bournemouth reportedly are still keen on working out a deal for Ritchie. If McLeish is correct that the 30-year-old is hoping to move to a club closer to his family, a return to Bournemouth certainly makes sense.
However, we find it strange that Ritchie would want to leave Tyneside after just inking a new deal in March. He also was a first-choice winger down the stretch over loanee Valentino Lazaro.
While that may have changed with the arrival of his former Bournemouth teammate Ryan Fraser, Ritchie seems the sort of character who relishes competition.
So we’ll have to wait and see if there’s anything to these claims from McLeish. We expect Matt is itching to play a big part for Newcastle this season after his injury struggles last term.