Newcastle United give ‘green light’ to surprise January departure of Rafa Benitez signing

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One Magpies stalwart could be heading for a cut-price exit in January.

Newcastle United are reportedly ready to listen to offers for Matt Ritchie ahead of a cut-price January exit.

The former Bournemouth winger has been a long-standing member of the Magpies squad after swapping life on the South Coast for a move to the North East ahead of the 2016/17 season. The Scottish winger became a key member of Rafa Benitez’s squad and helped guide United back into the Premier League at the first attempt as they claimed the Championship title on the final day of the season.

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Ritchie continued to be a regular feature of the Spaniard’s squad as Newcastle re-established themselves in the top tier over the coming seasons and remained part of the setup when Steve Bruce succeeded Benitez at St James Park in 2019. However, Ritchie has become something of a bit-part player since his former Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe replaced Bruce just over 12 months ago.

After making just three starts during the second-half of last season, Ritchie has made just one start during the current campaign as he helped the Magpies come through a challenging visit to Tranmere Rovers in the second round of the Carabao Cup. A late appearance as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers remains the sum total of his Premier League action for the season.

However, a calf injury suffered during training has played a part in Ritchie’s absence from matchday squads, with Howe discussing the situation prior to last month’s draw at Manchester United. He said: “Matt picked up a calf problem. We don’t know whether he’ll be back before the World Cup but he’s doing well.”

Ritchie is out of contract at the end of the season and Football Insider have now reported Howe has ‘given the green light’ for the 33-year-old to depart on a ‘cut-price deal’ during the January transfer window as his seven-year spell on Tyneside draws to a close.

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