Matt Ritchie emptied his belongings and even bid farewell to team-mates and staff in January after being on the verge of a switch back to Bournemouth from Newcastle.
According to The Athletic, Ritchie was on the cusp of a return to the Cherries in January, but Newcastle pulled the plug on a move at the eleventh hour.
Ritchie extended his contract with the Magpies in March last year but was nonetheless keen on returning to the south coast. As is noted in The Athletic, Ritchie retains a family home in Dorset and is originally from the Bournemouth area.
Having said his goodbyes and collected his possessions, the winger was convinced a move would materialise – but Newcastle could not secure a replacement nor were willing to accept the terms proposed by the south coast side.
Newcastle were only willing to sanction a permanent move or a loan with an obligation to buy, but Bournemouth held out for a compromise in which Ritchie would only sign permanently if promotion were to be secured at the end of this season – a compromise Newcastle were not willing to accept.
Consequentially, a deal collapsed, leaving Ritchie in the lurch.
The Scotland international was embroiled in recent controversy after Steve Bruce confirmed reports of a heated training ground clash between him and Ritchie in a tell-tale sign of the underlying tensions on Tyneside.
Nothing but Newcastle’s View
With just nine league appearances and featuring in just 23% of possible minutes under Steve Bruce, it is no wonder that Ritchie was keen on a fresh return to a familiar haunt.
However, the obstacles presented by Ritchie’s failed move must be converted into opportunity.
With Newcastle engulfed in a relegation dogfight, utilising every asset – including Ritchie – must be in Bruce’s thinking to boost the odds of survival.