Matt Ritchie has admitted he really did come very close to leaving Newcastle United in January.
The 31-year-old now finds himself a regular in the Magpies’ starting XI under Steve Bruce.
Fans have been delighted with the impact he has made in recent weeks, and his return to the side has coincided with an upturn in form for the team.
But Ritchie could easily not have been around at St. James’ Park at this point, with the player telling Sky Sports a loan back to Bournemouth was indeed on the table.
He said: “If I’m honest, yes, I thought my Newcastle career was over.
“It was difficult, it was probably my first spell in my career where I’ve been fully fit and not involved, so that was difficult mentally and physically, how to adapt and adapt my training. They’re challenges I’ve not had before.”
Following that failed moved back to the south coast, Ritchie made an appearance against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League at the end of February.
The £45,000-a-week ace (Spotrac) took issue with Steve Bruce blaming players for the equalising goal that night, which led to a training ground bust-up between the pair that became public (Daily Mail).
Despite that episode, Ritchie is now back in the side and has had a big impact for Newcastle.
No Ritchie exit might have helped save Newcastle
It’s very possible Ritchie leaving in January might have meant Newcastle would be a lot closer to Fulham right now.
His passion and professionalism in the last few weeks appear to have rubbed off on other players in the team.
Thankfully that proposed exit did not materialise, otherwise who knows where the team would be right now.