Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino had another good game for us on Sunday this time in the midst of some world-class players who were in the Liverpool side.
And the news coming through about Merino is he almost signed in the summer for Athletic Bilbao on loan.
Newcastle had the funds to be able to pay the 21 year-old’s wages he was getting at Borrusia Dortmund.
And he’s been a star so far this season and we expect him to get a lot better in the future.
He started alongside Jonjo Shelvey on Sunday and that could become our first choice central midfield partnership this season.
But we also have another very good young player in Isaac Hayden – the former Arsenal youngster.
We were in trouble when Shelvey was banned for five games last season over the Christmas period.
But this season, when the 25-year-old was banned for three games, Mikel came in and played well so we didn’t miss Jonjo that much.
Mikel Merino above – quickly learning the ropes under Rafa Benitez
But Shelvey showed his class and creativity against his former club Liverpool on Sunday, and hopefully, he will be available for the rest of this season and behave himself.
This is what Merino has said about the game on Sunday as reported in the Northern Echo:
“This means that this team has heart, a really good mentality and it doesn’t matter if we’re one down or one up, we have to keep fighting.”
“We have believed about our possibilities – it doesn’t matter if we are losing by one, we keep fighting and in the end we have our important point – our goal.”
“And this is how this team works. We have to keep going like this though.”
“It was a tough game and everyone could see how good Liverpool is. I think we have done a great, great effort.”
“All the match we were running, it was incredible how we run and work, all the supporters were behind us, we achieved an important point against a great team.”
“We are happy about that but we know we need to keep working and doing what we are doing.”
“The crowd was incredible. I’m used to it, so I’m not surprised because every time we play at home the crowd is at an incredible level.”
“It helps us a lot and the team is really, really happy about that. What we want to do is to keep the mood and to keep the crowd going like this.”
“Each time I go away with the national team I want to play good, I want to help my national team and to help them win.
“It’s a different style of football but I have the same mentality: work hard and help my team. I will then come back and go again with Newcastle.”
Mikel will be off with the Spanish U21 side during the International break when he is likely to start for Spain in their game against Slovenia in a European U21 qualifier next week.
Mikel looks a great buy for us and he also seems such a great lad – perfect for Newcastle – and Rafa can make him into a top player for us in the next year or two.