Newcastle United wasted no time in replacing the departed Andros Townsend, putting pen-to-paper on a five-year deal for the 26 year-old Matt Ritchie. The Scotland international winger was a mainstay for AFC Bournemouth the past three seasons, helping the club secure two promotions while netting 15 times and adding another 17 assists for the club during their championship campaign in 2014/2015. Most notably, at least from a Newcastle perspective, was Ritchie’s effort in scoring the club’s goal of the season last year against Sunderland.
Ritchie was rumored to have turned down a deal that would have made him one of the highest paid players in club history, opting instead to drop down to the Championship in order to play for a club of Newcastle’s stature. Speaking to the club earlier today Ritchie said, "It's an unbelievable feeling to come to a football club like this...But when a club like Newcastle comes calling, I couldn't pass up this opportunity.”
Rafa Benitiez, who has wasted no time splashing the cash in the transfer market, praised Ritchie’s ability to not only fill Townsend’s shoes, but to become a potential star for the club when it (hopefully) returns to the Premier League. "He has great ability and pace, and as soon as we knew that Andros Townsend could be leaving, our priority was to finalise this deal” said Benitez. "We have signed an exciting winger who has experience in the Championship but has also proved that he can step up to the top level. I am delighted that he is now part of our squad."
The £12m fee for Ritchie makes him the joint-most expensive Scotland international in history joining Steven Fletcher at the top of the list. Right behind Fletcher, who will be in the championship this season with Sheffield Wednesday, and Ritchie is Ross McCormack of Fulham who is rumored to be on the move as well. Should he stay in the Championship, it will be interesting to see who proves themselves to be the most valuable on the field. For Newcastle fans everywhere, here’s hoping Ritchie hits the ground running.