Newcastle United midfielder Matt Ritchie is the level of player Stoke City are hoping to sign this summer, according to new manager Gary Rowett.
Ritchie was one of Newcastle’s most consistent performers following their return to the Premier League, making 35 top-flight appearances, scoring three goals and assisting another five.
He moved to St James’ Park in 2016 for a reported fee of £12 million and his former club Bournemouth, along with Championship sides Stoke and Middlesbrough, are reportedly targeting the Scotland international.
Following Stoke’s relegation from the Premier League, Rowett has acknowledged that Ritchie is the type of player they are looking to sign in their bid for promotion next season.
“We’ve got a very varied target list out there and I’ve always said the same, when you’re linked with players they are not always true… but often some of them are,” Rowett told the Stoke Sentinel.
“We want the level of player we are being linked with. That’s the type and the level of player we are trying to bring into the club. A lot of those players will be different styles, they won’t all be the type of player.
“But there are players we think can come in and make a difference. We are working very hard.
“Tony (Scholes) and Mark (Cartwright) are working very hard to try to get some of the targets we have all agreed upon and, ultimately, it’s like anything: I want them tomorrow and they want the best deals! We then work together to try to find the middle ground.”
Ritchie has been a key player for Newcastle in his two years in the north east, but manager Rafa Benitez is aware that he may have to sell one or two of his players to generate funds for who he wants to sign in the summer transfer window.
Stoke, meanwhile, have already signed Benik Afobe and Oghenekaro Etebo, with the latter gaining plenty of admirers following his impressive performances in the group stage of the World Cup for Nigeria.
And another of Ritchie’s reported suitors Middlesbrough, who are managed by former Stoke boss Tony Pulis, have splashed out to shore up their back-line, by spending a combined £10 million to bring in Aden Flint and Paddy McNair from Bristol City and Sunderland respectively.