According to latest reports, Newcastle United’s Mikel Merino is attracting a lot of interest from Spanish outfits with the player seemingly unsettled at the club. Some claim that the 21-year-old is ready to hand in a transfer request but Rafael Benitez has no plans of selling him anytime soon.
Back in May, when rumours were circling around the Spaniard’s name, Merino said, “Every market there are rumours of all kinds. I’m not worried about what happens if something happens the agents call my parents and they communicate it to me, but I’m not spending all day waiting for the mobile.”
Not the most convincing statement to guarantee his stay at Tyneside which is understandable after the last season. Merino was heavily involved in United’s Premier League activities earlier in the 2017/18 campaign but slowly got demoted to a more sporadic role behind Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey.
Benitez chose to field the latter duo in the final stretch of the season, ahead of the Spaniard as he wanted to fit in both Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez into the lineup. With Kenedy and Matt Ritchie taking up the wings, there was no space left over for Merino in the manager’s defensive setup.
Merino only signed with the Magpies last summer, first on a season-long loan and later permanently in October. At the time he was touted to be a brilliant long-term acquisition and still is valued by Benitez.
The youngster made his way over from Borussia Dortmund after making only 9 senior team appearances in 18 months for the Bundesliga outfit. His search for greener pastures quickly proved otherwise in the late stages of the past season and that has left him to ponder upon a move away to his home country.
The midfielder is brimming with top-pedigree talent and is already capable of taking on major responsibilities. He is ambitious and wants to make a name for himself in the European top-flight.
Real Sociedad will be able to offer him a more important role now that Xabi Prieto has already announced his retirement. However, Merino will still have to fight it out against Asier Illarramendi, Igor Zubeldia, Ruben Pardo and David Zurutuza.
He has a better shot at first-team involvement at St James’ Park than with the Royals. Benitez should offer the youngster a more prominent role in the coming season and try his very best to keep him in the side.