CHERRIES have tonight completed the signing of Swindon Town’s jewel in the crown Matt Ritchie, the Daily Echo can exclusively reveal.
The 23-year-old winger finalised terms on a three-and-a-half year contract after the two clubs agreed a transfer fee of around £500,000.
Ritchie opened talks with Cherries after the Dorset outfit met Swindon’s valuation earlier today.
News of Cherries’ renewed interest in the former Portsmouth trainee was revealed on the Daily Echo’s Twitter feed this afternoon.
Initial reports suggested Cherries had tabled an offer in the region of £600,000, although the final figure is believed to be closer to £500,000.
The move sees Cherries successfully end their 14-month pursuit of the left-footed wide man.
Sought-after Ritchie was also understood to have been a target for a host of Championship clubs with Cherries fending off competition from the likes of Crystal Palace, Charlton, Bolton and Bristol City.
Ritchie has this season enhanced his growing reputation, his nine goals and nine assists helping the Robins force their way into the promotion picture.
The gifted Gosport-born ace also played a starring role last season and was named League Two’s player of the year as Swindon romped to the title.
Cherries had a bid of £500,000 turned down by Swindon during former boss Lee Bradbury’s time at the helm in December 2011.
And they have since been linked with several swoops for the pint-sized winger, who trained with Cherries in 2008 when Kevin Bond was in charge.
Current Cherries boss Eddie Howe, who worked alongside Bond, is a Ritchie admirer and could see him as the final piece of the jigsaw as the club bids to win promotion this season.
Swindon boss Paolo Di Canio last week said the Wiltshire outfit had not received any offers for Ritchie and was adamant the player was not for sale.
Ritchie had 18 months to run on his existing contract with the Robins and Di Canio claimed the club had rejected an offer of £900,000 for his services in the summer.
However, the landscape has since altered with Swindon having recently appointed advisors to restructure their finances – with debts thought to be around £13million.
It is believed the addition of Ritchie will not be the end of Cherries’ activity before the transfer window closes at 11pm tomorrow night.
And while the club could be looking to further bolster its squad for a promotion push over the closing months of the season, departures could also be expected.
Striker Wes Thomas, the subject of intense transfer speculation for the past couple of months, and midfielder Lorenzo Davids could be on the move.