Newcastle United winger Matt Ritchie has been told he will not be offered a new contract at the club and that he is free to leave at the end of the season.
The 29-year-old has contributed two goals and five assists in 32 Premier League appearances for the Magpies this season, helping the team move clear of the relgation zone and into mid-table.
During his two years with the club, he has become a firm fan favourite for his combative approach in midfield and never-say-die attitude, but it now looks as though his future at St James’ Park is in major doubt.
According to The Sun, Newcastle have rejected Ritchie’s request for a new contract, with his existing deal set to expire in 2021.
The Toon star met with club boss Rafa Benitez last week to discuss his position in the squad and he was told in no uncertain terms that he will not be granted a renewal because of his age.
The Spanish boss also told Ritchie that he can look for a new club when the transfer window reopens if he chooses, despite being a fixture in his starting XI this season.
The Scotland international has started more games in the Premier League this season than any of his outfield colleagues and adapted to a new role at left-back in recent months with admirable enthusiasm.
The Sun reports that Bournemouth could be ready to offer Ritchie the chance to return to the Vitality Stadium this summer, but it remains to be seen what his final decision will be.
The Magpies stalwart could quite easily stay at St James’ Park for another two seasons and continue to give his all for the cause, but his loyalty may have been tested by the club’s ruthless stance on his future.
Ritchie still has plenty to offer in the top flight as he approaches the latter stages of his career and he deserves better treatment after proving himself as one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League.