We were hoping as a last-gasp measure that Rafa meeting up with Mikel Merino this week in preseason training could persuade the youngster to stay one more year at Newcastle and see how things turned out.
But it wasn’t to be, and now the Chronicle are reporting that Marino is expected to leave “imminently” for Real Sociedad with the deal all agreed.
Sociedad triggered the release clause in Merino’s contract thought to be around the £10M mark.
Mikel Merino a year ago – so short a stay on Tyneside
When the deal goes through that should give Rafa £10M more to spend although it means replacing a 21-year-old with terrific potential.
We would have preferred Mikel to have stayed and see how things turn out for him.
It seems like a rash decision by the player who is still very young but obviously wants first-team football next term.
Merino is already back and is already back in Spain and will sign a five-year deal at Real Sociedad.
We could say that Ki Sung-yueng from Swansea City last week is Mikel’s replacement and Ki is an experienced player who came very cheaply – as a free agent.
It’s not expected that Merino will return to Newcastle and so only one season from a youngster who has now left us.
It’s a pity he couldn’t stay for another season of coaching under Rafa Benitez – he would have been a much better player next summer.
But these things happen.