It will probably come as no major surprise to many Newcastle United fans to hear Mikel Merino is making a real name for himself in Spain.
The elegant midfielder’s time on Tyneside was short lived yet action packed in one way or another.
He signed on loan as an intriguing Spanish U-21 talent, impressed so much in the early stages that we immediately turned his move from Dortmund into a permanent one, however then suffered over the second half of the 2017/18 season via a combination of injuries and an underlying eagerness to return to his homeland.
Sadly, a £10.5m release clause meant we were powerless to stopping him signing for Real Sociedad in July 2018 and off he went, being a player who
Two years on and he’s just enjoyed his best season yet in professional football, not only guiding them to Europe via a 6th place finish in Spain but being named in WhoScored.com’s La Liga team of the season for 2019/20:
The 24-year-old is believed to be on the cusp of a call-up to the Spanish national side and it’s easy to see why, with no player in La Liga winning back possession in the midfield more than Merino (166!) and him also weighing in with six goals from a deep-lying playmakers role.
As a result, the former Mag has just been rewarded with a 5-year-deal at Real Sociedad, with reports suggesting that deal includes a whopping release clause of €60-€70m – meaning they’ve been able to protect his future much better than we did back in 2017.
We couldn’t exactly do much about his exit at the time and many stick with the argument that you shouldn’t bother persuading someone to stay if their head is elsewhere, but it looks like Merino will go down as another ‘one that got away’ for Newcastle United.
Here’s some clips of him in action across 2019/20: