Newcastle open to offers for Portsmouth academy graduate Matt Ritchie who would love Fratton Park return before he retires

Pompey academy graduate Matt Ritchie looks set to end his six-year association with Newcastle.

By Mark McMahon
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 4:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 11:06 am

According to reports, Toon boss Eddie Howe is prepared to listen to offers for the 32-year-old, who has made no secret of his desire to play for Pompey again before he retires.

The Gosport-born ace is entering the final year of his St James’ Park contract, and with his chances of regular game time expected to decrease over the summer as Newcastle launch another assault on the transfer market, Ritchie will be deemed surplus to requirements.

That will hardly come as a surprise to the Toon faithful, with the left-sided player starting only 14 league games last season.

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He also managed just two Premier League substitute outings over the second half of he campaign, with his two-minute cameo appearance against Burnley on Sunday seen as an opportunity to say goodbye to the fans after 184 appearances.

Former employers Bournemouth, whom Ritchie left in a £12m deal in 2016, are reportedly keen on a reunion.

Meanwhile, there is apparent interest from the Championship.

It’s highly unlikely the former Blues youngster will get the chance to add to his 10 Pompey appearances just yet, with no suggestion that a Fratton Park return is in the cards this summer.

Matt Ritchie's days as a Newcastle player look to be coming to an end Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

But where ever he ends up, Ritchie will leave Newcastle knowing that Toon boss Eddie Howe massively appreciates everything he has done for the club during his time in the north east.

‘Matt’s contribution has been massive,’ said Howe.

‘It’s absolutely humungous what he’s achieved here. Leaving me at Bournemouth to come to a team in the Championship, the role he played in that team was huge. Then his contribution in the Premier League has been immense.

‘This season, just speaking on behalf of what he has given the group, even though he might not have played regularly, behind the scenes he has just been an unbelievable professional.

‘He’s a big voice in the changing room that’s helped unite people. He’s played a big part in our fight to stay in the division.’

No doubt, Blues supporters would relish a reunion with the Scotland international.

There’s probably some distance to travel before such a move could happen.

In the meantime, here’s a reminder of what Ritchie said about a potential homecoming when speaking to The News in April 2020.

‘To play for Portsmouth was a dream - and I do feel I’ve got unfinished business there, for sure,’ said Ritchie.

‘I feel I’ve got a good five to seven years in the locker still and I’ve just signed a new contract with Newcastle, where I’m really enjoying my time.

‘But in my head my next challenge is definitely to play for Portsmouth again - and have an impact.

‘I’ve really got a burning ambition to have some sort of success at Portsmouth. Whether that’s in three, four or five years, who knows?

‘But certainly, for me, I want to play - and I want to go back there and make an impact.

‘I don’t want to come back and do one of those where I’m finished and my legs have gone.

‘That’s not how I want to do it. I want to come back, offer something and have an impact.

‘I want to be part of a success story at Portsmouth, for sure.

‘My goal now is to come back to Portsmouth at some stage, have an impact and success. It would be great to take the club back to where it deserves to be.

‘When I left the club it was on a downward spiral, so I would like to play a part in getting the club to the next level and be part of something special in helping them to the Premier League.’