Ritchie: When a club like Newcastle comes calling…

Date published: Friday 1st July 2016 1:51

Newcastle have confirmed the signing of winger Matt Ritchie from Premier League side Bournemouth.

Ritchie, 25, has agreed a five-year contract after the two clubs agreed a fee, reported to be around £10million, for the Scotland international.

It has been a busy day of transfer activity at St James’ Park with the Magpies also signing striker Dwight Gayle from Crystal Palace, also for a reported fee of £10million, and Andros Townsend moving in the opposite direction after the London club met the £13million release clause in his contract.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to come to a football club like this,” Ritchie told the club’s official website.

“I loved it at Bournemouth – I had a fantastic time there and it had a huge impact on my career. But when a club like Newcastle comes calling, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

“It’s fantastic to be here and I’m really looking forward to the challenge of getting the club back in the Premier League.”

Bournemouth are understood to have rejected a bid from West Ham last month for Gosport-born Ritchie, who completed his Newcastle medical on Thursday night.

He was a near ever-present for Bournemouth last season, the club’s first in the Premier League, scoring four goals in 37 appearances, while he netted 15 for Eddie Howe’s side as they won promotion from the Sky Bet Championship in the previous campaign.

He progressed through Portsmouth’s academy and had loan spells at Dagenham, Notts County and Swindon before sealing a permanent move to the latter in January 2011.

Bournemouth paid Swindon £400,000 for Ritchie in January 2013 and he scored 31 goals in a total of 142 appearances for the Dorset club.

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez added: “We have been following some wingers for a while and Matt was one of the best prospects for this team.

“He has great ability and pace, and as soon as we knew that Andros Townsend could be leaving, our priority was to finalise this deal.

“We have signed an exciting winger who has experience in the Championship but has also proved that he can step up to the top level. I am delighted that he is now part of our squad.”

Ritchie is Newcastle’s third summer signing following the arrival of Gayle and goalkeeper Matz Sels, signed from Belgian side Gent for a reported fee of £4.5million on Wednesday.

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