Rafa Benitez hits back at Matt Ritchie claims contract claims at Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez has responded to a report that Matt Ritchie is heading for a summer exit.

By Miles Starforth
Thursday, 18 April, 2019, 14:55

It was claimed this week that Ritchie, 29, had been told by Benitez that he wouldn't get a new deal because of his age.

The winger has two years left on his St James's Park contract and is reportedly looking for an extension to the deal.

Matt Ritchie.

Benitez, however, says he cannot discuss contracts with players while his own future at the club is uncertain.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League home game against Southampton, Benitez said: "I finish my contract on June 30.

"I'm a professional. I want to do well and the first thing is to win against Southampton in the next game.

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"I don’t like to see debates about my contract, players leaving or me having meetings with anyone. I have to prepare the team the best way possible for the next game.

“I have had some players talking with me, but I told them you have to talk with the club not me. All I can do is make sure they are fit and ready, and pick the team.

“My priority is to concentrate on the game. I'm not happy when I see all the stories about Ritchie, it is not true. My job is to prepare Ritchie for the next game. I cannot give any advice about the future, my contract is up on June 30.

“If I do not have a contract after next month, how can I say to him ‘I will not give you a contract'?.

“It is a decision for the club. My job is to be sure he is fit and ready. I want to be sure we get another three points and we will be safe, because I think the job is not done."