EXCLUSIVE By Pete O’Rourke
Matt Ritchie is tempted to quit Newcastle United as Stoke City line up a lucrative long-term offer, Football Insider understands.
The 29-year-old is wanted by the Championship club as they plot a return to the Premier League following a wretched campaign in which they finished in a lowly 16th.
A Stoke source has told Football Insider that the club are ready to table the bumper deal that Ritchie wants to tie him down well into his 30s.
Newcastle have made it privately clear they have no plans to offer the versatile star, who has thrived in a new left wing-back role this season, an extension to his current agreement, which expires in the summer of 2021.
That is a major blow to Ritchie, who is keen to consider alternative offers and is willing to drop down to the Championship, just like he did when joining Newcastle from Bournemouth in 2016.
The left footer is a fans favourite on Tyneside, with supporters appreciative of his consistency, reliability and durability, as well as his ability to score and create goals.
Ritchie has started 34 of the club’s 37 Premier League matches this season – more than any other outfield player – and has now made 124 appearances for Newcastle.
In other Newcastle United news, the club are set to start work on a £15million transfer after the green light is given.