Newcastle United need to bring in more quality if they are to consolidate themselves as a force in the Premier League, which will be the aspiration of Rafa Benitez. He won’t want to be managing a team to make up the numbers.
The Telegraph report that Mikel Merino is closing in on a move to Tyneside after an agreement for a transfer was reached with Borussia Dortmund. Marca had previously reported that a loan deal was likely, but it now looks like the Magpies have landed their man on a permanent deal.
Benitez has had a frustrating summer as the club have failed to land priority targets, but this deal represents a huge breakthrough for the club and will go a long way to making their manager happy. The midfielder was personally recommended by the Magpies’ boss and he will strengthen their options in the centre of the park.
Newcastle were made aware that he was unsettled in Germany and have been pursuing a deal behind the scenes for weeks. It now looks like they have landed their man.
What would he bring to Newcastle United?
The Spaniard didn’t play a prominent role at Borussia Dortmund last season, but he is only 21 years of ageand it is clear that he possesses a lot of talent.
He made eight appearances in the Bundesliga, which included two starts for the midfielder. The Spanish Under-21 international is viewed as part of the next generation at the club and was signed after an impressive period at Osasuna. Although he didn’t feature in the Spanish top flight, he racked up more than 50 appearances in the second tier and emerged as one of the most talented in his age group.
Merino is predominantly a central midfielder, but he was used at centre-back by Thomas Tuchel at times last season. He would add versatility and technical ability that Newcastle need more of in their squad. The 21-year-old is confident on the ball and composed in possession. His quick turn of pace is a dangerous weapon in transition and he reads the game well for a player of his age.
For Osasuna, he played mainly as a box-to-box midfielder, but he has the attributes to carry out other roles. Under Benitez, he could develop quickly and he would certainly represent a good signing for the Magpies as they attempt to establish themselves as a Premier League side once again.
How likely is a transfer?
The deal hasn’t been widely reported in recent weeks, but it has clearly been progressing behind the scenes and a move now looks likely. Craig Hope from the Daily Mail has tweeted that the midfielder is on Tyneside for a medical and it does look like the transfer will be completed imminently, before clarifying the contrasting reports from England and Spain.
For clarity, the Merino deal is originally a loan but NUFC have an obligation to buy. So yes, loan for first season but NUFC only pay later.
— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) July 26, 2017
Merino may not be well known in this country, but this is a significant transfer for Newcastle. Benitez has been frustrated this summer and he will be delighted that the club have managed to land a player that he personally wanted to bring to St James’ Park. This deal could be completed as early as tomorrow and supporters will be hoping there are more deals being done under the radar such as this one.