Mikel Merino has played down a move away from Newcastle this summer, revealing how he’s striving to become an ‘important player’ at the club and looking forward to what he predicts to be a ‘really good season’ for him and Newcastle in 2018/19.
The Spaniard made a stunning start to life on Tyneside, however injuries, a loss of form and the emergence of Mo Diame saw him really struggle for game time over the second half of the season.
It’s since emerged that both Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis are interested in signing him this summer, with a new report emerging on his future every week from Spanish press, however his comments here do not sound like those of a man about to leave.
Here’s what he’s had to say when speaking to the NUFC.co.uk today:
“I’ll try to improve myself, I’ll try to play more minutes, to be an important part of the team and an important player,”
“I want to increase my offensive skills, try to make more goals, try to be more confident with ball and try to make my teammates play better.
“In the summer I will work on my less strong things, like using more of the right foot and things like that, and in the pre-season I’ll try to improve myself even more and start the season at a high level.”
Merino then reflected on his first season at the club, also admitting that he’s predicting a ‘really good season’ next year and a bright future on Tyneside (hardly the words of a man about to leave):
“It has been a big season for me. It was my first season as a professional player in the highest division and, for me, I’ve learned a lot,”
“I’m happy because I’ve been in a really good group with really good players, learning in arguably the best league in the world, and I think I’ve got a lot more things to improve. But it’s been a very good first year for me.
“When you play against the best players in the world, at this level, where every single thing and every single mistake counts, you learn a lot. The pace, the tempo and the intensity is amazing, and with those minutes you play you learn a lot. I think it’s going to be a really good season next season, and in the future.”
Who knows what will happen this summer after all the claims and counter claims suggesting he’ll stay or leave this summer, but based on these comments alone, he doesn’t sound like a player who’ll be going anywhere this summer.
He sounds firmly focused on NUFC and, after all the recent rumours, that’s great to hear – especially given he’s such a promising talent we’d probably regret selling.