Speaking to the Spanish media today, Mikel Merino has admitted that he would like to return to Spain one day and is ‘very grateful’ for Athletic Bilbao’s interest – however suggests he is not distracted by these links.
Merino is currently away with Spain U-21’s, having bagged a brilliant assist in their 5-3 win over Northern Ireland last week.
Whilst his comments here will do little to settle Newcastle fans hoping to keep him at St James’ Park for years to come, it’s worth remembering that he was speaking highly about the club just a few days ago, suggesting he’s in a ‘great scenario’ at NUFC to achieve his dream of a call-up to the senior Spanish national side.
Here’s what he’s had to say today in a Q & A with Spanish outlet AS:
In what position are you most comfortable?
“In the position of ‘eight’, as I did in the U-19, with a midfielder behind that gives me more freedom because I like to get to the area, shoot on goal … It’s where I think I am the best footballer.”
With 21 years has already played in Spain, Germany and England … What differences are there?
“They are very different. The German is a very strong football, very physical, in which the teams are very well planted and work very well tactically. And the Premier is the top step to feel soccer player. It is the most difficult league, very intense. The players are physically the best there is. The tactical and technical level is not as good as the Spanish League but the physical level is brutal.”
What’s up with Benitez at Newcastle?
“Very happy. He is very clear about what he wants, he works a lot tactically.”
Would you like to return to Spain?
“Yes. I am very happy to be in the Premier and the experience in the Bundesliga, but someday I would like to return to the Spanish League.”
Does it bother you to be associated with Athletic in each transfer market?
“No. The fact that both Athletic and other teams are playing is a sign that you are doing things right. I am very grateful for the interest they put in each market because it means that I’m doing things right.”
Do you see yourself playing in San Mamés?
“You can never guess where you are going to play.”
A few things to take from this. A) you’d expect him to want a return to Spain one day. He’s only 21 and will no doubt like a return to his homeland in the future. B) He sees the Bilbao interest as a sign that he’s doing things right and doesn’t seem distracted by it.
You never want to hear one of your own talk about a potential move away, but he has sounded like a player and person who’s loving life on Tyneside based on his recent comments.
Rafa has no intention of selling him according to the Chronicle, and these aren’t the words of a man who’s clearly looking for a move anytime soon.
Here’s his delightful assist for Spain last Thursday:
Mikel Merino.. That pass. pic.twitter.com/OHoaHou3JT
— NUFCThreatLevel (@NUFCThreatLevel) March 22, 2018