Liam Kennedy has said that Newcastle United will ‘likely’ need to find a replacement for Matt Ritchie in this summer’s transfer window.
The 31-year-old has made 169 appearances for Newcastle since joining from Bournemouth in 2016, scoring 24 goals and providing 31 assists in black and white. Last season, he featured 21 times across all competitions, including a run of nine consecutive starts at the end of the Premier League season.
Back in March, Ritchie was reportedly involved in a training-ground bust-up with Steve Bruce. He is alleged to have called the manager a ‘coward’, and been ‘physically confronted’ in response.
The Scot was an unused substitute in the three games which followed, but then regained the faith of his manager. Following the 4-3 defeat against Manchester City last month, Pep Guardiola singled out Ritchie for praise, admitting he was ‘so good as a taker’ of set pieces.
Kennedy was asked in a fan Q&A for Shields Gazette what areas should take priority for Newcastle in the transfer market.
He replied: “Centre-half and central midfield. United need to add at least one player in both positions. A Matt Ritchie replacement is likely to be needed as will a stand in for Wilson. Those four would be a start, moving forward.”
The 31-year-old still has two years left on his contract and is valued at £3.6m by Transfermarkt.
Losing Ritchie would be a blow to Newcastle given his experience, dead ball quality and supreme versatility – he can operate in either full-back position and further up both flanks.
It could prove very tricky for the Magpies to find a player who combines all of those qualities, either from within the club or on the transfer market for a reasonable fee, considering reports of a paltry £10m-£12m summer budget.
In other news, another Newcastle ace is pushing for a way out.
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