Newcastle midfielder Mikel Merino has admitted that he will ‘clear his mind’ this summer and enjoy his holiday, insisting that he is ‘happy’ at the club and focused on playing football under Rafa Benitez.
The Spanish U-21 international was outstanding over the first quarter of the season and looked like one of the buys of the summer, however a back injury and a subsequent dip in form and fitness have seen his season fizzle out.
One thing that won’t go away is links with a return to Spain, with Athletico Bilbao linked once again last week with a bid for the midfielder over the coming months.
Here’s what the 21-year-old has had to say when asked about these rumours, confirming that he is happy on Tyneside and ready to refocus over his holidays:
“I’m happy. I’m just focusing on playing football and enjoying myself,”
“We have these two matches, and then I’ll clear my mind and relax with my family and loved ones and enjoy my holidays.”
Sounds to me that these links have got to him, with him needing to ‘clear his mind’ suggesting he’s become a little unsettled – even if he remains happy to be at NUFC.
Asked about his return to action at Vicarage Road over the weekend, the Spaniard admitted that he was happy to get some minutes and hopes to play more over the final two games of the season:
“Yes, players always want to play, and even more when you think you are doing the correct things,”
“The coaches decide who has to play, and I’m here just to try to put my skills and motivation for the team. I’m happy now for the few minutes I’ve played, and I hope to have some more.
“Rafa gave a chance to Manquillo and Murphy. They earned it. What we have to do is wait for the coach to make the decision. Hopefully I can play more.”
I really hope we do keep a hold of him this summer. He may have struggled over the past 6 months, but he’s clearly a top talent and one we’d be stupid to sell – even if we did recoup around double the £7m paid for him just last year.
His lengthy dip in form and absence from Rafa’s starting 11 has been a slight concern, but there’s been plenty reasons as to why he could have struggled. His brilliant start raised expectations, but he is, after all, a 21-year-old playing in a totally new league for a struggling team.
Let’s hope he has a good summer, comes back focused and ready to get back to his best form under Benitez.