We were always going to live to regret Mikel Merino’s early exit at Newcastle United, weren’t we?
The ex-Mag midfielder has been enjoying another impressive season in Spain, but his season reached new heights last night, with him scoring in Real Sociedad’s 4-3 win at the Bernabeu in the quarter final of the Copa Del Rey.
Here’s his part in the shock victory, with his goal (which made it 1-4!) proving decisive in a 7-goal thriller that’s sent his side into the semis:
This means Merino’s Real Sociedad will now take on Atheltic Bilbao (who knocked out Barcelona last night!) in their semi, with lower league Mirandes or Granada awaiting in the final.
His time on Tyneside was a funny one. He immediately looked an absolute steal, being a graceful player with brilliant work ethic and technique.
The fact we acted so quickly to turn his loan move into a permanent one in October highlighted how much he impressed under Rafa Benitez, however a reoccurring back injury and niggling links with a move back to Spain saw him struggle for game time and form in 2018.
Sadly, it emerged that a £13m release clause existed in his contract – and the writing was on the wall from that moment onwards.
He was clearly missing home and several La Liga sides were showing interest, so we were powerless when Real Sociedad stepped in.
A classy player who could go on to big things in Spain – making his at times brilliant but brief spell at St James’ Park all the more bittersweet.