Rafa Benitez indicates he will be giving Matt Ritchie new role

Despite a lack of pace on the counter attack, Newcastle let Jacob Murphy go out on loan to West Brom on deadline day, as per nufc.co.uk, and the decision to do so may have confused some; particularly as the Magpies have been lacking quality options on the left-wing since Matt Ritchie was shifted into Rafa Benitez’s back-five to patch up an injury stricken defence.

However, after the club sealed a loan move for Monaco’s Antonio Barreca in January – the Italian came on at left-wing-back in the loss to Spurs on Saturday – Rafa Benitez is looking forward to restoring Ritchie in midfield.

What’s Benitez said?

Well, the Spaniard said, in quotes reported by The Northern Echo:

“We decided to let Murphy go on loan because of that

“With Barreca, we have another chance to play with a left wing-back, which means that Ritchie can play as a winger.

“Maybe he can continue as a wing-back if we need him to, but at least we have more options and that is always good because it gives us more competition.

The Magpies have found success playing a 5-4-1 in recent weeks, although this may be subject to change after the club-record signing of Miguel Almiron, who excels playing as an attacking midfielder in central areas.

Benefits of Barreca

The 23-year-old has got bags of pace – a commodity in the Newcastle ranks – and will match his right-sided counterpart DeAndre Yedlin in that department but, more importantly, his arrival allows Ritchie, who is arguably the St James’ Park outfit’s best crosser of the ball, to get into attacking areas more often.

Striker Salomon Rondon thrives off of balls into the box and is a real handful for any centre-back on his day, although Ritchie’s relegation to the defence has meant he has had less service – the likes of Christian Atsu and Ayoze Perez have often struggled in that respect.

Newcastle make the trip to Molineux on Monday to face Wolves and will be hoping to climb further away from the relegation zone. Might we see Richie back in midfield as soon as then?

The Magpie Channel’s Matt explains why he’s “jealous” of Wolves ahead of Newcastle’s clash with Nuno Espirito Santo’s men on Monday 11th in the video below…