Since signing in the summer from Bournemouth, Matt Ritchie has established himself as a fan favourite. It’s not hard to see why. The Scottish international has become a central part of the side. Furthermore, his importance must not go unnoticed.

Is Ritchie Newcastle’s best player?

It’s hard to disagree with that fact. A lot of plaudits have gone to Jonjo Shelvey and Dwight Gayle throughout the season. However, against Burton last week Ritchie scored his 16th goal this season. Just six goals behind top goal scorer Dwight Gayle. A quite extraordinary fact considering Gayle has been United’s main striker this season.

When adding this stat to the fact Ritchie has created several assists for United this season, you begin to see the huge impact he has on the side. Ritchie combines the assists of Shelvey and the goals of Dwight Gayle. The winner of the Championship player of the year, Anthony Knockaert, has just two more goals and one more assist than Ritchie in two more appearances. With the rate which Ritchie is getting goals for United at the minute, you could see him surpassing that. So for him not to even feature is an insult.

There is a valid argument that Knockaert has been the best player in the division this year. Him and Glenn Murray’s wide array of penalties have carried Brighton to the Premier League. However, he has been a better player to watch for Newcastle week in week out than Dwight Gayle. This is evident just by watching Newcastle. Gayle is a superb striker but doesn’t quite have the influence of Matt Ritchie. Chris Wood is also just a goal scorer for Leeds. Whilst you could argue that he has carried Leeds like Knockaert for Brighton. He hasn’t offered much else and arguably would have been well beaten in the Golden Boot race if it wasn’t for Gayle’s injury.

Ritchie should win the Player of the Season award for Newcastle for his efforts. He offers everything needed in a player and is a match winner. He has been instrumental for United and is one of the key reasons we are so close to our goal.

Feature image credit: Martin Le Roy

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