BOSS Eddie Howe admitted Matt Ritchie had turned down a new contract at Cherries before making a big-money move to Newcastle United – but insisted the winger had left on very good terms.

Howe said the Scotland international had rejected the deal and had "expressed a desire to leave".

But following Ritchie's £12million move to St James's Park last week, Howe praised the substantial impact of the 26-year-old during a glittering spell at Cherries, the wide man having helped the club complete a meteoric rise from League One to the top flight.

Howe said: “We were very sad to see Matty go. He has been an integral part of our success over a long time and has been an incredible servant to this football club.

“We leave on very good terms but the sequence of events this summer was that we offered Matty a new contract, he turned that down and expressed a desire to leave. We then got a bid from Newcastle.

“It’s always sad when a player who has done so well for the club leaves. Matty wanted to pursue his career elsewhere and he leaves with our best wishes.

“I had a great relationship with him and enjoyed working with him greatly. He has an incredible appetite and desire towards football. He wants to progress and epitomised the improvement in the group.

“When you compare his overall game from when he arrived to when he left I think he leaves a much-improved player, and I think that is largely down to his mentality for self-improvement.

“He scored a number of crucial goals for us and epitomised our play off the ball a lot of the time, because of his work rate and his appetite to press and close down."

Ritchie featured in all but one of Cherries' Premier League games last season, scoring four goals as he maintained his status as one of Howe's most trusted performers.

But following Ritchie's departure, Howe backed his existing squad members to fill the void.

Howe added: “It goes without saying that when one player leaves, a door opens for someone else. That is the life of a football club.

“There will always be comings and goings but the key thing is that your way of working and methods are consistent and now someone else will now come in and pick up the baton.

“We have got Ryan Fraser coming back from Ipswich where he did really well and we have really high hopes for him.

“We have Max Gradel coming back to fitness, Junior Stanislas, who did very well for us last year and Marc Pugh, who has always been such a consistent performer for us.

“We are well-stocked in the wide areas, and of course we have the transfer market if we feel we need it."

Cherries are due to fly to the United States on Sunday where they will spend just over a week in Chicago before jetting north west to face Minnesota United on Wednesday, July 20.