Newcastle United have made their fifth summer signing as they bring in Mikel Merino on a season-long loan deal from Borussia Dortmund. There is believed to be an option to buy for the Magpies and there is already expectation that they will take it, as the midfielder is regarded as a huge talent that could play a big part in the rebuilding process under Rafa Benitez.
The 21-year-old made over 60 appearances for Osasuna in the Spanish second division before earning a big move to Dortmund. Although things didn’t work out in Germany, he did manage to make a handful of appearances for the Bundesliga club, which underlines the talent that he possesses. He will have learned a lot from the last 12 months and Newcastle are set to benefit from that.
It is thought that Benitez pressed hard for the signing of Merino, and he said this on his new recruit when the deal was announced:
“Mikel is a midfielder with talent, an under-21 international for Spain. He’s a good size, has quality on the ball and he’s very, very focused and professional. Hopefully he’s the kind of player we can improve a lot – he certainly has the mentality to get better and better.”
The Newcastle boss has a good knowledge of the Spanish market and this is a display of that. It also shows the pull that Benitez has as he has managed to bring one of the country’s most talented youngsters to St James’ Park. Spaniards want to play for him and the Magpies need to take advantage of that during the coming years, as there is a lot of talent to be picked up.
He will come in to add competition to the squad and offer a more cultured option, which is important in the Premier League. Newcastle could dominate matches in the Championship, but their ball retention needs to be better in the top flight. The signing of Merino is aimed to help improve that part of the team’s game.
Here is how Twitter reacted to the loan signing of Merino:
Plenty for #NUFC fans to be excited about with Mikel Merino. Can play as CB, DM, CM (Box to box type). Strong, athletic, very good passing.
— David Cartlidge (@davidjaca) July 26, 2017
Rafa on Merino deal: "Hopefully he can enjoy playing here for a long time." Season-long at first, but he'll be at #nufc long-term.
— Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas) July 28, 2017
Newcastle United confirm interest in Mikel Merino.
48 hours later…
Newcastle United sign Mikel Merino.
? No nonsense pic.twitter.com/aDdNy1dyRE
— bet365 (@bet365) July 28, 2017
By the way, Mikel Merino: that's (potentially) a really good signing.
— Sid Lowe (@sidlowe) July 28, 2017
Merino's English is excellent, judging by the NUFCTV video. Will hopefully help him settle in immediately #nufc
— Chris Waugh (@ChrisDHWaugh) July 28, 2017
— James Nalton (@JDNalton) July 28, 2017
Newcastle fans were understandably excited by the signing:
Seen 2 mins of Merino footage. Thays enough for me. He's a world beater #NUFC
— Alex Mitchell ?? (@alex_mitchell92) July 28, 2017
By all accounts, Merino will be a fantastic signing #NUFC
— Rafa's ?? & ?? Army (@NUFC_Fan_) July 28, 2017
So happy about Merino, very good bit of business. #NUFC
— Jake (@HWTL1892) July 28, 2017
Dortmund fans admitted it was a good pick-up for the Magpies:
I'd have preferred for Merino to stay, but if he gets regular football in a big league the Newcastle loan should be a good move for him
— James (@SimplyBartra) July 28, 2017
Looks like Newcastle have gained a good player, Wouldn't have worked with Dortmund's depth in midfield but sad to see Merino go all the same
— seánmcgovern (@mcgovernsean15) July 27, 2017