'An example to his teammates': Benitez delivers glowing verdict on Newcastle 27-year-old
By Matt Farr
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has sung the praises of midfield star Matt Ritchie.
The Magpies chief hailed the 27-year-old for his exceptional character and work-rate throughout their Championship campaign, as they close in on promotion to the Premier League.
Ritchie has been one of Newcastle’s most consistent performers this season, contributing an incredible 14 goals and 10 assists from 43 appearances.
Top goalscorer Dwight Gayle and midfield pass-master Jonjo Shelvey have been equally as impressive for Newcastle this season, but Benitez singled out Ritchie as ‘an example to his team-mates’ with his endless passion.
He told the Chronicle: “He’s always so positive and is an example to others. He’s someone who puts a lot of work into every game. He’s always a threat and a problem for other teams.
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“I’m really pleased with his character because it’s fundamental to the way we want to play. When you play these kind of games under pressure you’re looking for that kind of player.
“That passion can be seen in every game, you can see he’s running all the time – sometimes we tell him to stop because he’s putting so much effort in. He’s an example to his team-mates with his attitude and ability.”
The Scotland international sacrificed life in the Premier League with Bournemouth for a return to the Championship with Newcastle last summer in a £12million deal.
But despite Bournemouth’s own successes in the top tier this season, Ritchie’s move to Newcastle has often proven to be the wise choice.
He is now on track to be able to deliver the goods against his former club in the Premier League next season, with Newcastle currently one point clear at the top of the table with seven games remaining.
In other Newcastle news, one of Newcastle’s loan stars has made a revelation at where he will be playing football next season.