The future of Matt Ritchie has been a hot topic over the past few days, and now manager Rafa Benitez has weighed in.

The Sun reported earlier this week that the 29-year-old had been told by Benitez that he wouldn’t be offered a new contract by the club due to his age.

The Chronicle played down these claims, and Benitez has now had his say.

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

“I am not happy when I see stories about Ritchie as it is not true,” Benitez told the Chronicle ahead of the clash with Southampton.

“It was not accurate or right. It can’t be.

“If I don’t know if I have a contract how can I tell him?”

Benitez uses Ritchie to send another message

Benitez is exactly right, and once again it puts pressure on Mike Ashley. The manager can’t fully prepare for the new season if he isn’t certain about his future.

(Photo by LINDSEY PARNABY/AFP/Getty Images)

The slow contract progress has a knock on effect, impacting not only Benitez but his players as well.

Fans weren’t happy with reports about Ritchie potentially leaving, so Benitez’s denial is certainly a positive. What isn’t positive is the fact that we’re getting close to the end of the season and the manager’s future still hasn’t been resolved.

If he does go, Ritchie might not even want to be a Newcastle player anymore. The lure of playing for Benitez has proven to be huge when recruiting players, with so many new signings talking about the impact the manager had on their decision to join.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The clock is ticking. Ashley needs to act.

Benitez has the keys to make this club great, but unfortunately it’s Ashley’s house.

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