Some big claims have emerged from Spain today, claiming that Mikel Merino is ‘closing in’ on a move to Real Betis after ‘positive’ talks with the club – and it looks like we may be trying to sign Lille midfielder Thiago Maia in his place.
Sevilla ABC claim that the midfielder has held productive talks with Betis vice president Lorenzo Serra Ferrer and Coach Quique Setien, claiming that a move could go ahead if and when the La Liga side agree a fee with Newcastle United.
Even if we are willing to sell, you can guarantee that Rafa won’t want Merino to leave unless a deal for his replacement is already secured. With that in mind, it’s interesting to see us being heavily linked with a move for Brazilian midfielder Thiago Maia – someone who has a very similar profile to Merino in terms of age, potential, playing style and position.
If French reports are to be believed, we had a bid knocked back for him last week and La Voix Du Nord have suggested today that this hasn’t stopped us pursuing a deal for the 21-year-old.
Just recently Merino vowed to become an ‘important player’ at NUFC over the coming season – sounding anything but a player about to leave – however he’s been persistently linked with a move back to Spain over the last few months, and there’s no smoke without fire.
It’s looking more and more likely that Merino leaves this summer, but maybe we’ll be swapping one Spain U-23 international for a Brazilian one if Maia does prove to be Rafa’s preferred replacement.