Newcastle United need a strong finish to the season to avoid any last minute mishaps in the top flight and Rafa Benitez seems convinced that his side can avoid the drop this season. He is already planning for the future and this has seen the Magpies linked with a number of star players for a move this summer.
There are a few players in the first team at St James’ that might attract interests from elsewhere this summer. While skipper Jamaal Lascelles is wanted by West Ham United, Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino is wanted in Spain. La Liga giants Athletic Bilbao were linked with Merino in January and reports claim that they are readying a £13m bid for his services this summer.
Earlier in the month, it was reported that Merino is keen on moving back to Spain but the player has today revealed that he is settled at Tyneside and is not thinking about a move anytime soon.
Speaking the media, Merino said, “I know I am at a great club and Newcastle is a great place too. Newcastle people are awesome and really kind to me. I am enjoying the city,” he added.
Though he said that he wants to play in the La Liga someday, also said that he would love to land a Spanish national team cap in his time with the Magpies. He is not too far away from it so Rafa has to work really hard to keep him at the club but can he retain him come the start of the new campaign?
Known for his strength and athletic approach to the game, Merino is a defensive midfielder who loves to dictate play in front of the backline. He acts as a cover for his defence, making interceptions and tackles at crucial times, to keep his side on the top. He can also produce defence breaking passes but is at his best sitting back and soaking up the pressure, as is evident from his performances this season.
Having moved to England from Borussia Dortmund at the start of the previous year, Merino played a decent role in helping the Magpies to the top flight and has been integral to Rafa’s plans at the club. He has 14 starts this season, where he has picked up a goal and an assist, even after missing a whole month at the end of last year to an injury.
He is settled at the club and will be the first choice midfielder for the manager next season and at just 21, has a bright future ahead of him. He is better off staying back in England and learning his trade before he can announce himself to the European stage.
But do you think Newcastle United can keep hold of him for another year?