Who is Mikel Merino? £53m Liverpool target likened to Xabi Alonso
It’s no secret that Liverpool are looking to sign midfielders this year.
The Reds have several players out of contract and/or heading towards the twilights of their careers.
Jude Bellingham is Liverpool’s top target in the middle of the park, but there are other names doing the rounds.
One of those is Mikel Merino, one of Real Sociedad’s top players and an 11-cap Spain international.
According to Rudy Galetti, the 26-year-old is one of the options on Jurgen Klopp’s wish-list at Liverpool.
Liverpool target Merino – factfile
Merino came through the ranks at Osasuna and played for Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle United earlier in his career.
He left St James’ Park to join Sociedad for a reported £10.6m in 2018, and has clocked up 175 appearances for the La Liga club.
Merino’s goal contribution tally in white and blue stands at 18 goals and 23 assists.
His contract expires in 2025 and he has a €60m (£53m) release clause, as per the Manchester Evening News.
In terms of Merino’s style of play, La Liga Analysis shared an in-depth scouting report on the player in December.
‘Merino is a formidable presence in the midfield for Real Sociedad and guards their midfield like no other,’ they wrote.
‘He is a very intelligent footballer who is difficult to beat.’
‘The best player in La Liga’
Last year, Sociedad manager Imanol Alguacil gave Merino some incredibly high praise.
“I said it before and I’ll say it again in case it’s not clear,” he told the Bangkok Post.
“Mikel Merino is the best player in La Liga.”
And Rafa Benitez compared Merino to Alonso when the former was at Newcastle.
“There are similarities,” Chronicle Live quote him as saying.
“I will tell you, though it maybe sounds stupid, that they are both Basque – from the Basque country.
“They are similar because of the position they are in and the way they read the game.
“Alonso’s long passing was better but Merino is more mobile and more dynamic.”
All in all, a good shout for Liverpool.
He’s an incredibly talented player in his prime, somewhat expensive but not exorbitant, and likened to an Anfield cult hero in Alonso.
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