Mikel Merino is one of the most popular players at Newcastle, and the 21-year-old has quickly proved what a great player he can become for the Magpies.
Merino was signed permanently for about £7M from Borussia Dortmund, and we missed him when he was injured during our four-game losing streak.
The fact is we are a much better team when Mikel is playing with his strong physical midfield presence and his passing ability.
He’s a player who is always looking to drive Newcastle forward and is an excellent technical player who Rafa thinks will become a full Spanish International.
While Mikel was growing up in Spain, he idolized top Spanish players like Cesc Fabregas, who is likely to be challenging Mikel in the midfield tomorrow.
Mikel Merino – in action at West Brom
Mikel cannot believe he will be playing against Fabregas tomorrow and thinks it will be like playing in a video game.
This is what the talented youngster, with that terrific temperament and attitude, has said as reported in the Northern Echo today:
“Chelsea have some great Spanish players,”
“They have great players all over the field, but it is obviously the Spanish players that I know most about and have grown up watching.”
“I am looking forward to playing against Fabregas – he has been a great player for Spain and in the Premier League.”
“For a player like me, who is young and playing my first matches as a professional, it is incredible to play against someone like Cesc Fabregas.”
“You feel like you are in a film or a video game. It is amazing to be able to play against one of these players, but it makes me even more determined to improve myself so I can fight with them.”
“I want to show that I am at the same level they are, and deserve to be playing against them. Why not? Why not try to eventually get better than them?”
“My mentality is that I always want to try to get on the ball, even if it is at a difficult stage of the game,”
“That is the way I have always played – I always want to get more touches of the ball, and I always want to play hard and strong, with intensity.”
“This is the mentality we have to have.”
Newcastle were much better on Tuesday night at the Hawthorns when Mikel was back in the side.
And hopefully, he can make a difference at Stamford Bridge in what is one of our most difficult fixtures of the season.