​Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez has labelled former Bournemouth winger Matt Ritchie the most exemplary player in his team.

The 27-year-old helped the Championship side pull closer towards promotion by scoring the winning goal against Wigan Athletic on Saturday, keeping up his fine form.

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Benitez revealed that, out of all his transfer targets, Ritchie was the most eager to join the Magpies in the summer. The Spaniard is now gushing over the player, even claiming that he has to ask him to slow down on occasion.

“Out of all the players we were talking about, he was the most clear that he wanted to come here," he said to Shields Gazette.

“For him, Newcastle was a massive club in a massive city, and he was talking about the fans and the stadium. From day one, he was very excited about the move. Clearly, he wanted to come.

“That passion can be seen in every game.

“You can see he’s running all the time. Sometimes, we tell him to stop, because he’s putting so much effort into it. I prefer this kind of player, the one you have to ask to back off rather than work harder.

“He’s an example to his team mates with his attitude and ability.

“I don’t like to talk too much about individuals, and (it) was very much a team effort."

Ritchie has created the most chances for Newcastle this season with 75, and is quickly becoming a fan favourite at St James' Park

“He’s someone who puts a lot of work into every game. He’s always a threat and a problem for other teams. I’m really pleased with his character, because it’s fundamental to the way we want to play.

“When you play these kind of games under pressure you’re looking for that kind of player.

“The fans here love this kind of player. For a manager, you can believe in him knowing he will always do his best. He’s always so positive and is an example for the others.”

Kavan Flavius is a regular contributor to the Official Chelsea Guest Fan Blog, find him on Twitter@KavanFlavius.