Matt Ritchie was arguably the surprise package of Newcastle United’s season last term.
The Scottish international was slowly moulded from flying right winger to dependable left wing-back by Rafa Benitez, and against all the odds, he took to his new role like a duck to water.
The 29-year-old ended the season with an average of 1.9 tackles and 1.7 clearances per match, as well as 1.7 key passes and 1.9 successful crosses, as per Whoscored.
In short, he transformed himself into the ideal wing-back, solid when required, creative when given the opportunity to roam.
Which is why it was somewhat confusing to hear earlier in the summer that he was a realistic target for Championship side Stoke City, as reported by Football Insider.
Not only would letting Ritchie go make almost zero sense, but letting him go to a second tier side would have been a considerable step down for the player himself.
Which is why it is reassuring to learn that Steve Bruce is intent on offering Ritchie a new deal at St. James’ Park.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the new Toon boss wants to tie down the wide man, alongside the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, and Martin Dubravka.
And after a tenure that has started tumultuously to say the least, this could prove to be Bruce’s first masterstroke.
Newcastle need new additions, but they’d be worthless if the Magpies can’t keep hold of the core group of players that made them successful under Benitez.
Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon have already gone, at least this way the Geordies shouldn’t lose anymore heroes.