Alex McLeish has revealed how Matt Ritchie is keen to quit Newcastle United and head back south this window.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Scotland manager explained how the versatile Magpies star, 30, is hankering for a move due to personal reason.

As reported by Football Insider, Newcastle initially offered Ritchie plus cash in a part-exchange bid for Callum Wilson but a deal could not be agreed with Bournemouth.

Wilson, 28, subsequently agreed to join the north-east giants in a £20million move independent of Ritchie that was confirmed on Monday.

Ritchie has earned 16 Scotland caps but asked to be excluded from selection for the national team in November 2018 when McLeish was in charge.

“I know Ritchie, I’ve spoken to Ritchie a few times, and tried to get him to play regularly for Scotland but there was little I could do, ” McLeish told Football Insider.

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“I don’t want to discuss anybody’s private life, but I think his family did move back down south and he was kind of maybe looking to move back there to some club.”

Nevertheless, the former Aston Villa and Rangers boss is in no doubt how significant Ritchie is to his club side.

He’s been very, very important to Newcastle and he’s fitted into the systems really well,” McLeish added. “Not only was he a dangerous winger but he played the wing-back position extremely well, he was taught that and he took it in and understood it and you’ve got a great asset there when you’ve got that.

“He’s been a real warrior for Newcastle, I would say, in the last few years but if his family are down south and it’s more of a personal thing, then perhaps it’s a really good move for him.

“You think Bournemouth would still be a force in the Championship to get back to the Premier League.”

In other Newcastle United news, it can be REVEALED that club have set sights on new signing after deal for forward collapses.