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Well Done Rafa Benitez – Signing This Dortmund Loanee On A Permanent Deal Is A Wonderful Move

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Mikel Merino (on the ball)

Why Newcastle Have Done The Right Thing By Signing Merino On A Permanent Basis

It might not be the transfer period, but Newcastle United completed a major transfer this past week as they signed midfielder Mikel Merino on a permanent five-year deal. 

The 21-year old moved to the St. James’ Park earlier this summer from Borussia Dortmund, on a loan deal, with an option to convert it into a permanent transfer. The Magpies have now decided to trigger that option, handing the Spaniard a long-term contract.  

“I’m really happy to be here, and for this part of the contract to finally be official,” Merino said, as quoted by the Independent

“I’m focused on my displays and improving myself, and I’m really happy to have signed this contract. 

Merino is highly thought of back in his homeland, Spain, and moved to the German club in the summer of last year, but endured a difficult start to life with BVB. He could never stake a claim for a regular spot in Thomas Tuchel’s side and as a result, managed just 8 appearances in all competitions. So, coming into the new season, to a new team, the pressure was on him to perform and prove his worth.

Merino has done just that since his move to Newcastle. Having got his chance following Jonjo Shelvey’s red card in the season opener against Tottenham, the 21-year old did not take long to show his quality and has immediately established himself as a key member of the Magpies’ squad.  

The former Osasuna man has featured in each of Newcastle’s seven Premier League games this term and has been one of their best players, alongside the likes of Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles. Capable of playing in a number of roles in the midfield, be it as a defensive anchorman or as a box-to-box runner, the Spaniard has shone bright for the Toon with his strong and robust displays.  

Able to break play up effectively in the middle of the park and recycle the ball well, Merino, in his seven league games has made 14 interceptions, while his tenacious nature has also been on display given that he has attempted a high 40 tackles with a 50% success-rate. The energy and the work-rate off the ball that Merino offers, it is not hard to see why the Newcastle supporters have developed a liking towards their latest signing.   

Merino has not only looked to screen his backline, but has also provided the thrust and drive from the midfield for Newcastle in Shelvey’s absence. The 21-year old has attempted 15 take-ons so far, this season, enjoying success in 12 of them (80% success) and has created six clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities as well, highlighting his ability to impact games going forward as well.  

Merino might have been coming on the back of a difficult season at Dortmund, but he hasn’t let that affect his game at his new club, which gives an idea of his impressive mentality. He hasn’t taken too long to settle in and looks at home in the Newcastle midfield and by signing him up on a permanent basis, the Magpies have got hold of a player who has the ability to develop into their midfield mainstay for the years to come.