We really hate to see a good young player with enormous potential leave the club, but that seems what could happen this summer with Mikel Merino, who turned 22 last Friday.
Mikel made a great start to his career last August, but this year he could hardly get into the side with Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey in really top form.
Mikel is young but doesn’t seem to want to wait for another season at Newcastle; he wants first-team football to continue his development.
But he still played 25 times for Newcastle last season with one goal – so that’s not bad at all.
But news from Spain today that Real Sociedad want to sign the player this week and Marca is reporting this week could be decisive in Sociedad’s pursuit of the box to box midfielder.
Mikel Merino – playing for Spanish U21 side
We still don’t know how serious the clubs are in Spain and whether they have the money to sign the Spaniard, who cost us £7M from Borussia Dortmund last summer.
For instance, there was news in the last couple of days that Athletic Bilbao will not be bidding for the Spanish U21 International.
Rafael Benitez rates Mikel Merino highly and wants to keep him at the club.
Here is some of what the manager said about Merino late last season as reported today in the Shields Gazette:
“I think he was unlucky with that injury and also Jonjo and Diame were playing much better.”
“We have to understand that when you talk about players in the same position – we can say ‘Merino is really good, better than Shelvey’, but if we’ve had words about that, it means something is right, because both are good players.”
“But when one is so bad that nobody’s talking about him, something is wrong.” “In this case, we are lucky enough to have Isaac Hayden, Mikel, Jonjo Shelvey and more (Mohamed Diame), because all of them can play.”
“When the team is playing well, I don’t think there’s a massive difference between one or the other one.”
“They are different in terms of characteristics, but the team could do well with one or the other one.”
Interesting comments and insights there from Rafa who will want to keep his compatriot on Tyneside.
There’s also a good chance the Spanish clubs after him will be unwilling to pay what Rafa wants for the player – maybe over £15M?
It will be high especially when Rafa does not want to sell one of his very best young players whose contract still has four years to run.
We have to have players leave the club this summer to cut down on the wage bill and make room in the squad for incoming players.
But not one of our best young players.