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Mike Ashley must hand Rafa Benitez this £8.1m-rated enforcer to replace Mikel Merino

The Newcastle United supporters were absolutely delighted by the impact Mikel Merino had at the club during the early stages of his career in English football, but he has slowly become something of a forgotten figure on Tyneside. 

The resident Magpies propping up our bar could regularly be heard waxing lyrical about the textbook technique of Merino during the opening months of the campaign, and he deservedly earned a permanent transfer after initially joining on a loan deal from Borussia Dortmund. However, as the season developed he became something of a peripheral figure at St James’ Park, as he lost his place in the first-team to the consistently impressive Mo Diame who established a formidable partnership with Jonjo Shelvey in midfield.

As such, the 21-year-old made just 3 starts in the Premier League after Christmas, so it’s no surprise that Spanish media outlet Marca believe that both Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao are lining up to secure his signature this summer.

Although it would be a massive shame for Merino to leave Newcastle after just one season in which he demonstrated huge levels of promise, Rafa Benitez may be forced to accept that reality this summer.

If Merino eventually departs the club for his home nation or otherwise, Mike Ashley will need to fork out for a new centre-midfielder who can significantly strengthen Benitez’s options in this position, and one player who should be firmly on his radar is Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy (valued at £8.1 million by Transfermarkt).

The Terriers’ star talent played an instrumental role in their sensational survival bid last season, but with Huddersfield likely to be involved in a relegation scrap one again next season he could be tempted into a transfer away from the club this summer.

The Australia international can aptly be described as an all-action midfielder; he covers plenty of ground, is excellent in the tackle and possesses both the vision and range of passing to prise defences apart, so he would undoubtedly be an excellent addition to Newcastle’s squad next season.

Merino’s departure from the club seems perfectly plausible after his dramatic fall from grace this season, and if he eventually embarks on a new challenge after just one season in the North-East, Newcastle should make the signing of Mooy their number one priority in the transfer market.

Newcastle fans – thoughts? Let us know below!

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Article title: Mike Ashley must hand Rafa Benitez this £8.1m-rated enforcer to replace Mikel Merino

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