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Newcastle Midfielder In Demand – But Rafa Unlikely To Sell

The Spanish media are once again linking central Newcastle midfielder Mikel Merino with a move away from Newcastle in the summer.

This time there’s a report in AS yesterday.

And it’s the same club he’s being linked with – Athletic Bilbao – who were keen to sign him last summer but were beaten out by Newcastle.

Merino made an excellent start to his Newcastle career until late October when he suffered a back injury.

Mikel Merino – going nowhere

It took some time for him to recover from that – the worst injury he has sustained in football.

And by the time he did Mohamed Diame had come into the side and has been a revelation this year.

The consequences of that is that young Merino hasn’t been able to get much playing time.

But he’s only 21 and one of Spain’s best young player And the Spanish U21 International should not be sold this summer.

We’re sure he will not be and he has to challenge for his place in the Newcastle side and that’s exactly what Rafa has been telling him.

Newcastle paid about £7M for Merino when we signed him from Borussia Dortmund on a five-year deal.

The transfer fee quoted by AS is €10M (£8.8M) – but it will be much higher than that.

If Athletic Bilbao do make a formal approach for the player it seems a certainty that Rafa will tell them he’s not available.

He’s one of our best young players and showed tremendous promise in the 25 appearances he made for Newcastle last season.

Comments welcome.


Jack Farish is currently studying for a Master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology at Northumbria University.

His thesis project looks at Premier League fans’ team identification – how well they support and identify with their team.

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72 comments so far

  • OneAlanShearer

    May 23, 2018 at 11:02 AM

    Comment #1

    I would say if rafa could upgrade on him he might sell him.
    Depends how much potential he really see’s in him.

  • SredniVashtar

    May 23, 2018 at 11:23 AM

    Comment #2

    Lindisfarne from previous

    Castillo seems decent in that video but as always, they only show his best moments. He seems to have some skill and knows where the net is, but I couldn’t help but think premier league keepers would keep a large portion of those goals out. I am also concerned as to how he would fare up against physical premier league centre halves – it’s the old issue of whether he’ll adapt to the English game.
    I think the figure bandied about was 7 million? For that amount, he would certainly be worth a punt given how expensive proven strikers are these days, but I would want to bring in Balotelli or Torres as well.
    If we do sign him, it’s because Rafa thinks he’s good enough, and Rafa’s judgement is better than mine. I’m excited to see who he decides to bring in!

  • JP...from The Rock

    May 23, 2018 at 11:28 AM

    Comment #3

    I think Merino is a real gem. Since he picked up that back injury he hasn’t been the same but I am sure he will come back very strongly in August. We should keep him as he has massive potential and bound to be a star for the national team in the future.

  • lochinvar

    May 23, 2018 at 11:31 AM

    Comment #4

    Merino had a back injury.
    You don’t mess with back injuries.
    Anyone who has suffered back pain will tell you.
    Depending on the injury you can have very restricted movement and difficulty walking yet alone playing football.
    Rest lots of it and treatment take time.
    We praised Rafa and his team for significantly improving the squads health and fitness. Look what they did with Mo – from mouse to monster.
    I’m sure that Merino has to an extent been wrapped in cotton wool while the season progressed and protected for the longer term. He now has the summer months to work on his strength and fitness before returning to the fray fully fit next season. The lad has potential and Rafa will work with him on developing that.

  • lochinvar

    May 23, 2018 at 11:32 AM

    Comment #5

    JP – are you watching me ?

  • Jib

    May 23, 2018 at 11:38 AM

    Comment #6
  • JP...from The Rock

    May 23, 2018 at 11:44 AM

    Comment #7

    lochinvar – LOL, I really hope Rafa can get a similar talent for both ST and CAM positions. We really need those spots sorted with quality asap. It is crucial he gets that right. We can’t afford to have another Joselu up front missing chance after chance nor another Gayle for that matter. Gayle was a great buy as without his goals we probably still be in the Championship, but is not Premier League material. Joselu was a buy under a very stringent budget, but there were probably better options out there for that price. We need Rafa to be backed with cash from the fat man or else it’s going to be a long hard season full of worry again. We really need to kick on and if Rafa is backed at last, then I believe he will grab us the quality striker we all crave. I can’t wait for that day to come! Then we could move to bolster our other positions like LW/RW and LB/RB.

  • bettyswallocks

    May 23, 2018 at 11:47 AM

    Comment #8

    Jib…… I asked you yesterday what game do you play in your card school?

  • DubaiMicky

    May 23, 2018 at 11:49 AM

    Comment #9

    I thought Rafa’s comment that he got on with Ashley better than folk imagined was rather telling.

    Was he doing it politically to take some of the heat off the fat man so that he can get more funds/control?

  • lochinvar

    May 23, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    Comment #10

    Clearly we all know the answer…Brag

  • Lee Charnley Bunga Party

    May 23, 2018 at 11:53 AM

    Comment #11

    Merino and Hayden were good together for a spell of a couple of games and then both have lost their form and fitness and then Shelvey and Diame stepped up BIG TIME!

    Its up to them to rise to the challenge this season and win their places back or Rafa brings in more quality to make it even more competitive!

  • Jib

    May 23, 2018 at 11:56 AM

    Comment #12

    Good one

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 11:59 AM

    Comment #13

    Go Fish

  • RobLeenio

    May 23, 2018 at 12:00 PM

    Comment #14

    Micky, I think they’ve come to some form of agreement and Rafa is now working on his next priority – unifying the club. He’ll want Ashley to feel like he can come to matches with his family so he feels connected to the Rafalution. Long term strategy, Rafa ain’t daft

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:00 PM

    Comment #15

    Won’t be Blackjack though 😉

  • bettyswallocks

    May 23, 2018 at 12:01 PM

    Comment #16

    Jib…… There’s no catch to the question just curious.

  • DubaiMicky

    May 23, 2018 at 12:06 PM

    Comment #17

    I see Lascelles has been named Newcastle United’s player of the year officially.

  • DubaiMicky

    May 23, 2018 at 12:08 PM

    Comment #18

    Rob, I would have to agree, seems to me they’ve both got pretty much what they wanted.

    So the obvious next question is….

    Would Ashley be made welcome if he went to SJP?

  • The next Mike Williamson

    May 23, 2018 at 12:10 PM

    Comment #19

    feel a bit sorry for Merino. he was looking like our star player at one point. can’t drop shelvey though.

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:13 PM

    Comment #20

    So as the sun begins its arc from zenith towards the west, the clouds part and the dust settles on the accounting period 2016-2017.

    As I said when the Companies House submission spread panic and gasps of incredulity, there was nothing to see but the magic wand of number-crunching bean-counters justifying their own salaries by massaging and kneading the figures into the convenient time slot to report a satisfyingly unhealthy set of numbers to Inland Revenue, and a little bit of PR juice to spray over the interested public. Meanwhile, backstage in the real world, the wage bill is still at a reasonable level percentage of turnover, as expected, the onerous contract solutions against deferred sales payments and drop in TV revenue occurred, as expected, and Mike Ashley, benefactor, still ports vital revenue from brand marketing and advertising sideways, as expected. Everybody wins, eh?

    I was asked what I thought about the “Championship Team” wages now. Well, what is there for me to think about? Nothing I guess. 😀

  • Jib

    May 23, 2018 at 12:17 PM

    Comment #21

    Looks like St Mirren’s Jack Ross
    is the new manager of the scum

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:26 PM

    Comment #22

    Guess that puts paid to Coleman’s return. Talk about poisoned chalice.

  • DubaiMicky

    May 23, 2018 at 12:32 PM

    Comment #23

    And Gary Rowett from Derby to Stoke.

  • lochinvar

    May 23, 2018 at 12:33 PM

    Comment #24

    Jack Ross is Scotland’s Manager of the Year with St. Mirren a club who play in Black and White Stripes.

    Typical Mackem’s always trying to emulate their betters.

  • RobLeenio

    May 23, 2018 at 12:33 PM

    Comment #25

    Micky, if we had a match this weekend then no, he wouldn’t. It’s a long Summer, though – if he supports Rafa the way we want him to (not talking specific money, just in terms of bringing in the players Rafa wants when possible) then maybe

  • bettyswallocks

    May 23, 2018 at 12:33 PM

    Comment #26


    Jib’s card school. That’s why he is too embarrassed to answer a simple , civil question.

  • lochinvar

    May 23, 2018 at 12:34 PM

    Comment #27

    Jack Ross – sounds like he should be a Detective in Taggart.
    Plenty crimes against football to be solved in Sunderland.

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:35 PM

    Comment #28

    I like the look of Merino. When he first started there was this mix of inexperience, being caught on the ball and losing possession in vital areas….but… an innate sense of position, the ability to quickly turn into and empty space and play an instinctive ball forward in an instant, already aware of where his teammates were running. A few games in and the losing possession thing started to dry up, the influence in midfield .ore yelling, and it started to look like Shelvey would be second choice in no time. Then the injury. I think Rafa knows exactly how that is to be handled, Shelvey and Diame thankfully worked to the plan and so Merino wasn’t as needed as we thought – Merino has plenty of time to be a top player, and in time I think will be a really important one for us.

  • Hail Wor Ashley

    May 23, 2018 at 12:35 PM

    Comment #29

    Merino is still the talent we moved quick to sign permanently off the back of a great start which had many questioning how Shelvey gets back into the team, then injury struck. Couldn’t get back into the groove with the little pitch time afforded him on his return due to Mjoo’s emergence as a formidable partnership.

    I’m sure his watching brief in the 2nd half of the season taught him a lot and he’ll be nicely settled going into next season.No need to sell. He’s exactly the kind of competition we need in CM, and think he’ll grow into being a top performer.

  • toonbrother

    May 23, 2018 at 12:38 PM

    Comment #30

    I don’t get it Ed
    Last week you were advertising lascelles our best player and captain to Liverpool
    TodAy you’re against us selling a benchwarmer in merino
    Very strange

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:43 PM

    Comment #31

    Wow Hail – same page! I’m getting that framed 😀

  • Hail Wor Ashley

    May 23, 2018 at 12:44 PM

    Comment #32

    Merino is also the only player that has come close to reaching the same level of interception/tackles won stats as Diame in a given match too. Early on he surprised a lot including me when he was noted for such work ethic and willingness to get stuck in, I think most thought we were getting a typical Spanish playmaker in the mould of Fabregas that doesn’t do much on the defensive side.

    He’s a good blend of playmaker/physicality much like big Mo has shown from deeper.

    Kenedy also surprised me in that regard, very strong and needed no telling when it came to tracking back and helping out defensively.

    Two players very much a perfect fit for a Rafa team.

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:45 PM

    Comment #33

    Toonbotherer – as ever your input is divisive, controversial, ill-informed and worthless.

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:46 PM

    Comment #34

    A bit like mine ha ha howdy comrade! 🙂

  • ShirebrookToon

    May 23, 2018 at 12:48 PM

    Comment #35

    Imagine the Damage they could do in a midfield 3. Merino Diame Shelvey


  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:49 PM

    Comment #36

    Funny thing in getting Unai “Dick” Emery (howay you want to laugh you know you do) Arsenal are getting a manager who sets up his teams to press high and hard, everybody works flat out, everybody contributes, speed going forward expected from everyone except the keeper (until the last three minutes ha ha) Defensive core solid and unyielding. They think that’ll be the boost they need to go forward.

    We already have Rafa. 🙂

  • Tsunki

    May 23, 2018 at 12:51 PM

    Comment #37

    The only shame is Diame is perilously getting to the stage where his legs could go. However he can stall that with positional nous. We could really do with an understudy in the same mould.

  • Jail for Ashley

    May 23, 2018 at 1:04 PM

    Comment #38

    I need to answer Mag52’s question of why it’s so important for Rafa to sign a new deal this year but I haven’t had time. Back this evening or late afternoon.

  • Jib

    May 23, 2018 at 1:07 PM

    Comment #39

    I stopped playing the game I loved
    – cos I achieved everything when
    I found you.

    my game ?

    Hunt the c..t

    ha ha ha


  • NUFCadon

    May 23, 2018 at 1:08 PM

    Comment #40

    Merino would be a huge loss for me. He has the potential to be the next fabregas in my opinion. This season has been a disaster because of his injury but if that is sorted lets nurture him not sell him.

    Starting to hear the moans about all the rumors as well and that most wont end up happening. Well yes that is true but thats not to say most of them might be true. Rafa has shortlisted 50 strikers and I would imagine at one stage or another almost all of the names on that list will be contacted, same goes for the midfield.

    on the Torres and Balotelli front. For me Balotelli is overated. He had an ok return at city in a fantastic team. he was poor at liverpool. yes he can score goals but think he is more suited to football in Italy. Torres for me would only be good to coach the younger players. He is a legend of the game but would seriously struggle now in the Premier League. A few years back at Chelsea he was still OK but other then one seaso where he got 22 goals he wasn’t prolific and thats in a team where he was getting 3-4 clean cut chances a game not 1-2 like at newcastle


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