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:
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 (@JakeMileham27) 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
Lewis who? Adam Wilson on a path to Newcastle United first-team
After losing Lewis Gibson to Everton, Newcastle United have unearthed another gem in Adam Wilson.
Last July Newcastle United fans were left bitterly disappointed in the decision of Lewis Gibson to swap St James’ Park for Goodison Park.
Everton convinced the teenager to leave Tyneside for Merseyside in a deal the Liverpool Echo reported could eventually be worth around £6 million.
It was a shame to see the left-sided defender go and Newcastle fans believe they lost a huge talent, but those feelings have been slightly improved by the form of Adam Wilson at Newcastle.
Reports today are suggesting that Newcastle United are lining up a first professional contract for the player.
The Chronicle report that the Magpies will offer Wilson a two-year deal at the club, in the same week he was called up to the England under-18 side.
It is a reward for a player who has emerged as a regular in the Newcastle under-18s this season and since made his breakthrough into the under-23s.
The left-back is a far more attacking option than Gibson, but still operates in the same areas and has undoubtedly done a lot to let Newcastle forget all about their departed potential star.
This week will see England’s under-18s take on Argentina and Belarus, after already beating Qatar 4-0 in the other international friendly at St George’s Park.
Interestingly both Wilson and Gibson are in the England squad for the fixtures. For the Qatar game, Wilson started and Gibson watched from the bench.
It seems that Newcastle might already have their replacement for the £6 million man in their ranks.
In the end, the Magpies could even end up having the last laugh should Wilson continue on his current trajectory.
Will Newcastle United finally give Adam Armstrong his chance next season?
Adam Armstrong is currently in great form on loan at Blackburn Rovers.
Earlier this month, Blackburn Rovers forward Adam Armstrong was handed the League One Player of the Month award for February.
The England youth international, on loan from Newcastle United, thoroughly deserved the award, scoring four goals and bagging one assist in the same month he turned 21.
It was exactly the spell he needed to remind Toon supporters just how talented he is.
Armstrong, whose current record with Blackburn is seven goals in 12 games, was once considered the club’s most precocious talent.
It is now four years since Armstrong became the club’s second youngest player in Premier League history, when he replaced Luuk de Jong against Fulham.
However, the then 17-year-old has not progressed how he would have wanted at his parent club
Despite scoring 20 goals in 40 games for Coventry City in League One, back in 2015-16, he struggled to at subsequent loan spells with Barnsley and Bolton Wanderers.
Now, however, he looks back to his best. So should Newcastle finally pull the trigger on the striker next season?
Armstrong, who helped England to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup crown, is now 21 years of age and chomping at the bit to get first-team action at St James Park.
Newcastle United fans would love to see Armstrong feature in the first team. After all, the youngster is one of their own and clearly an immense talent.
If given the chance, and some playing time, he could hopefully translate his form with Blackburn to St James’ Park next season.
Not many youngsters have come through the ranks at Newcastle recently and Armstrong was always expected to be the next big star out the academy.
Hopefully, his excellent half of the season at Blackburn ends in promotion and further opportunities at the club he has supported since he was a little boy.
Victor Fernandez furthers Newcastle United first-team claims on Spain tour
The 19-year-old impressed as he featured against Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.
Newcastle United recently travelled to Spain for a training camp as they attempted to deal with three weeks without a competitive fixture.
Rafa Benitez is an experienced manager and he will have realised the danger that such a gap could pose for his team, especially when it came to the fitness of the squad.
He arranged a training camp in his homeland, which culminated in a unique 135-minute match against Belgian side Royal Antwerp.
It consisted of three periods of 45-minutes, which allowed the manager to give playing time to the fringe players in his squad ahead of the run-in.
Although it gave the opportunity to experiment, only two youth players made the trip to Spain.
Nathan Harker was the back-up goalkeeper as both Rob Elliot and Karl Darlow were struggling with injuries.
The other, Victor Fernandez, caught the eye of Newcastle supporters watching.
Fernandez will be encouraged about further involvement with the first-team, as he was the only young outfield player to feature against Royal Antwerp.
That is a sign that Benitez considers the 19-year-old as one of the best prospects currently with the club.
The Spaniard joined the club just over a year ago from UE Cornella.
The signing went under the radar, but Benitez has an extensive scouting network and he obviously saw something in Fernandez.
Although he is predominantly a winger, he can play anywhere across the front-line is required.
Soon after joining the club, he spoke of not wanting to aim for too much too early when talking to the Newcastle United official club website:
“My purpose was not to make an impact really quickly, because I’m new and I have to get used to English football – it’s really different from Spain. I hope, little by little, I can keep doing good things here.”
Considering this was very quickly after his move to a new country, Fernandez’s words show maturity and show a glimpse into his character.
Benitez is a thorough manager who likes to know everything about the players that he brings to a football club.
There must have been something about the Spanish winger that made the Newcastle manager believe that he could adapt to English football.
There are no guarantees in football when it comes to young players fulfilling their potential.
However, the fact that Fernandez was taken on the mid-season tour to Spain suggests that he is on the right path.
He would have been offered guarantees about a route to the first-team squad and his involvement against Royal Antwerp will have been a reward for his progression since moving to St James’ Park.
He came on for the final 45-minutes and showed flashes of his ability.
There was some nice interplay with Dwight Gayle that resulted in the teenager having a shot on goal.
His trickery and direct style caused problems for his marker and he continued to excite those watching when the ball was his feet.
There is more developing for him to do before he is ready for the first-team in competitive action, but his performance against Antwerp was a positive one.
There is clearly talent there and he will be a player to follow over the coming seasons.
Newcastle are at the early stage of their development under Rafa Benitez and that will mean opportunities are there for young players.
Fernandez could have the ability to take his.
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