Rafa Benitez reacts to bizarre claim about Miguel Almiron and Matt Ritchie at Newcastle United

Matt Ritchie.
Matt Ritchie.

Rafa Benitez says there are no problems on the pitch between Matt Ritchie and Miguel Almiron.

It was suggested this week that Ritchie is reluctant to pass to Almiron, signed from Atlanta United in January in a club-record deal.

However, Benitez has insisted that Ritchie enjoys playing behind Almiron.

“No, it’s OK, because for Ritchie, it’s a great advantage to have Miguel around, because he’s always giving a solution,” said Benitez, speaking ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League home game against Crystal Palace.

“He sprints so many times that Ritchie always has a solution, and you can see in the training sessions. He’s always happy when Almiron is on his side, because he can play with him every time.”

Ritchie, a winger, spoke to the Gazette about his new role as a left wing-back last month.

“I’ve got to be honest, I’m loving it,” said Ritchie. “I feel like I get in better areas higher up the pitch with the ball.

“I’d say that one of my biggest strengths is my delivery, and I get in positions now to cross the ball.”

Benitez is happy with Almiron’s form on the left side of his attack.

“I think he’s fine,” said United’s manager. “He’s giving us something that we didn’t have.

“I was really pleased with (Christian) Atsu. You could see Atsu training, and he’s really good in a lot of training sessions.

“But maybe Miguel Almiron is giving us something a little bit more, more sprints, more determination, more options going forward different to Atsu.

“In the end, it was fine because the understanding with Ayoze (Perez) and (Salomon) Rondon has been so good, the team has a different alternative that we didn’t have before.

“I think he can improve in terms of linking with the others, because sometimes now he wants to impress and he’s giving the ball away in situations where maybe he could manage a little bit better.

“But still he is giving us his energy, his desire, and that’s something I think he will keep for a while.”