Newcastle United wide player Matt Ritchie could be set for a sensational return to AFC Bournemouth – with Philip Billing heading the other way to Tyneside, according to The Sun.
Ritchie made the switch to St. James Park from the Dorset club in 2016 after 130 league appearances, including a 15-goal haul in the Cherries’ 2015-16 Championship promotion campaign.
The Scotland international has been a regular fixture for Newcastle since, featuring 159 in total, but the 31-year-old has found himself in and out of Steve Bruce’s starting line-up in recent months.
The Sun has reported that Bournemouth have a long-term desire to bring back Ritchie and Newcastle are ready to do a swap deal for Billing.
The Magpies are already looking at the Vitality Stadium for another incoming, with Graeme Jones given permission to talk to his hometown club regarding a coaching role, according to the Daily Mail.
It seems Billing could be heading north with him, having played 19 games this season but missed out on Bournemouth’s midweek loss to Derby County – despite the Dane saying he wasn’t injured, a claim that his boss Jason Tindall refutes.
The 24-year-old is highly-rated but has faced strong competition in the Cherries engine room from Jefferson Lerma and Lewis Cook, and if some kind of swap was to be agreed then it would solve Tindall’s issues at left wing-back, where he only really has right-footed Adam Smith as an option.
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This move would be a decent one for all parties, but I think it suits Bournemouth more than Newcastle.
The Cherries definitely need a new left-sided player – Smith is a natural right-back and Tindall seemingly prefers Diego Rico as a left centre-back rather than a wing-back, so Ritchie would give more balance to the team and would add another goal threat.
Bruce already has quite a few midfielders including Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, and the Longstaff brothers, but Billing provides something different in his strength, height, and ability to carry the ball forward.
Whether it happens remains to be seen – but it would make a whole lot of sense for both clubs and both players if it were to transpire.