Mike Ashley may have sanctioned the transfers of James Milner and Yohan Cabaye for big money in the past, but even he knows that the sale of Mikel Merino to Athletic Club in the summer would be suicidal. With 12 months remaining on Rafa Benítez’s contract, which he is yet to sit down for renewal talks on, the sale of Merino – a player Benítez shrewdly moved for last summer – would be a foolhardy decision.
The 15 Million Euro figure billed by Spanish outlet AS also seems far too small in this current market for a 21-year-old Spanish U21 international with four years remaining on his contract at a Premier League club where he is a first team player. The reports that surfaced recently (and have persisted again over the past few days) are merely conjecture and a move away for Merino looks to be very unlikely.
Making a quick buck may be on the Newcastle United Board’s mind but it is something which is extremely difficult to see happening, especially considering Merino himself declared in a recent interview that he is willing to commit his future to St James’ Park provided that Benítez remains at the helm.
The Spaniard is happy on Tyneside and has expressed his desire to remain at the club for the foreseeable future, as well as his comfort in and around the city. This admission carries more weight for Merino in particular who struggled to adapt to life in Dortmund last season.
Should Newcastle suffer the ignominy of a third relegation under the Ashley regime then that would potentially be a different story, however there seem to be plenty of teams below United in the table who are in more perilous danger than Benítez’s men.
For that reason, Mikel Merino looks as though he is just getting started on his Newcastle United career, much to the delight of supporters who have taken to his silky, Basque style.