With Sunderland dropping into League One last season, there will be no derbies in the league between the north east’s big three – but Newcastle United and Middlesbrough could still battle it out off the pitch.
This is because the Championship outfit are reportedly keen on snapping up a deal for the Magpies’ winger Matt Ritchie, the former Bournemouth man something of a specialist when it comes to promotion from the second tier.
The Chronicle state Boro have made an inquiry about a potential swoop for the Scottish international, who has become a favourite of both the fans and manager Rafael Benitez, and a reported £15million price tag has been slapped on his head.
However, there is another way that the Magpies can make this deal work for them, and that is by pulling off a stunning swap deal involving Ritchie for Boro flyer Adama Traore.
The electric winger dazzled in the Championship last season and certainly has the ability to get the fans off their seats at St James’ Park – but is it a realistic move?
Well, Traore would likely welcome a move to the Premier League, and with Chronicle journalist Chris Waugh reporting Ritchie loves the north east, a move to Boro is geographically satisfactory.
A swap, potentially involving some sort of fee from Newcastle, reduces the need for big spending by either side while giving them what they want.
The only issue is the drop from the top flight into the Championship – but if Middlesbrough can convince Ritchie they are Premier League bound, then this is a move that satisfies every party involved – even if it is an ambitious ploy.