By Alex Taylor

Newcastle are preparing an audacious bid to sign Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie, according to a report.

The Sun claim that the Magpies want to sign the 26-year-old as a replacement for Andros Townsend, who has been targeted by a number of Premier League clubs.

It is said Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez want to beat top-flight clubs to the signing of Richie before sanctioning the sale of Townsend.

The north-east giants fear the departure of Townsend is inevitable, given that he has a £12million release clause in his contract and there is a stampede for his signature led by Crystal Palace.

Ritchie has also attracted interest from West Ham following his impressive debut season in the top flight.

Ritchie scored four goals and provided six assists as he featured in all but one of Bournemouth’s Premier League games this season and proved himself an integral part of Eddie Howe’s side.

Bournemouth have spent precious little since their arrival into the Premier League last summer but may well be forced to spend big to guarantee survival next season, if they allow Ritchie to leave.

The winger’s contract does not run out until June 2018 but the player could be tempted by a move to Tyneside to work under former Real Madrid manager Benitez.

In other Newcastle news, flop Flovian Thauvin has personally phoned his former manager to secure a summer transfer.