Newcastle January plans underway as Eddie Howe tells star to find new club; MLS chance emerges

Jamaal Lascelles, Matty Longstaff and Matt Ritchie

A Newcastle man could end up playing in America’s MLS after Eddie Howe told him he is free to leave, according to one journalist.

Newcastle had a busy January transfer window in 2021, signing players such as Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes, Chris Wood, Dan Burn and Matt Targett. These players were tasked with helping Newcastle move away from the relegation zone, and that is exactly what they did.

The Magpies finished the campaign in 11th spot in the Premier League, only three points behind eighth-placed Leicester.

Club chiefs used their enormous spending power again in the summer, breaking their transfer record to sign Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad. The striker cost £60million and penned a long-term contract at St James’ Park.

Newcastle also brought in Sven Botman, Nick Pope and loanee Matt Targett on a permanent deal. The main aim of the transfers is to ensure the long-term success of the club’s project, while also achieving some progress in the mean time.

Newcastle have surpassed expectations already. The likes of Trippier, Guimaraes and Pope in particular have helped them reach third in the Prem before the World Cup break.

Howe is also helping some of the existing crop of players to improve. Miguel Almiron, Joelinton and Fabian Schar have all developed drastically since the 44-year-old became head coach.

However, things have not been as good for the other players who have lost their places in the first team. Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie are two good examples.

Newcastle to part ways with versatile player

On Tuesday, a pundit backed Howe to continue his ‘evolution’ with the ‘brutal’ axing of Lascelles and Ritchie.

And it seems that is exactly what might happen this winter. According to transfer insider Dean Jones, Newcastle and Howe are happy for versatile wide man Ritchie to leave the club.

During an interview with GiveMeSport, Jones said: “I’ve been told that he is a player that has been told he can go in the new year.

“I know there has been some interest from America, there are MLS clubs that like him, so that might be an avenue that opens up to him.”

Ritchie has been a loyal servant to Newcastle since joining the side in July 2016. He has made 190 appearances in all competitions, registering 24 goals and 33 assists.

The Scot is admired for his ability to play as a full-back or wide midfielder on either flank. This has regularly helped Newcastle out when they have had injuries in such positions.

But Ritchie has fallen down the pecking order due to the new arrivals. Howe can now rely on Trippier at right-back and Targett at left-back.

And the Magpies boss tends to go with a 4-3-3 formation, which leaves no room for Ritchie in a wide midfield role.

He is now 33 years old, so a move to MLS would probably make sense. This would allow Ritchie to pick up one last big-money contract before hanging up his boots.

Meanwhile, a former striker thinks Newcastle have the potential to go all the way and lift the Premier League title this season.