It was reported earlier this month that the La Liga side had made Lejeune their top centre-back target this summer, however it seems he’s not the only Newcastle player new boss Pablo Machin is keen to sign.
The report states that Sevilla have now informed Merino that they are keen to sign him, meaning we could be braced for yet another bid from Spain this summer – not just for Merino but for Lejeune too.
Here’s a snippet from Chris Waugh’s piece confirming Sevilla’s interest:
‘It is understood that Sevilla have now informed Merino they are keen to bring the midfielder back to Spain this summer.
‘Newcastle have not given up hope of holding on to Merino, but Benitez privately acknowledges that he cannot keep a player on Tyneside if they are determined to depart.
‘The Magpies will demand a fee in excess of £10m for Merino, while Benitez will not allow his compatriot to leave until he is confident a replacement can be signed as the United manager does not want to risk being left short of options in midfield.
‘At this stage, Sociedad appear to be the most-likely destination for Merino if he does depart, but Merino’s camp appear to be keeping his options open for now – which is why Sevilla have registered an interest.
‘New Sevilla manager Pablo Machin is keen to recruit an additional midfielder on top of Mesa this summer, while it also understood that Magpies centre-back Florian Lejeune is his top centre-back target.
‘But, although Benitez will reluctantly allow Merino to depart if the midfielder wants to, Frenchman Lejeune remains a key member of the Newcastle manager’s first-team squad and Newcastle will fight to keep hold of the defender, who is believed to be happy on Tyneside.’
The last line is telling for me. Given his outstanding start to life in England and impressive partnership with Jamaal Lascelles, I really can’t see us cashing in on Lejeune unless a huge offer arrives, however it sounds like Benitez now accepts that Merino could depart.
He’s a talented player and one who could’ve flourished in the Premier League in time, but I’d rather cash in on a player whose heart is not in it anymore.
Let’s hope we keep a hold of Lejeune – a classy operator who gives us something different from the back – but let’s also hope that the four clubs battling it out for Merino (Sevilla, Bilbao, Betis and Sociedad) allow us to create a bidding war and receive the best possible price.