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Transfer Flashbacks: Mikel Merino

Back in the middle of the summer transfer window of 2017, Newcastle United sealed a deal to bring midfielder Mikel Merino to St James’ Park.

The 22-year-old had been playing his football at German outfit Borussia Dortmund prior to initially signing a loan deal with Rafa Benitez’s side, although they did have an obligation to buy the Spain Under-21 international, which happened just a matter of months later.

And such was the response from Newcastle fans on Twitter in the immediate aftermath to Merino’s signing, it’s clear that they were excited by the prospect of the midfielder turning out for their club in the 2017/18 season, and indeed in the years to come…

And while the 22-year-old made a solid start to life on Tyneside, the fact that he is no longer at the club underlines that these Newcastle fans were completely wrong to rave about the Spaniard’s arrival.

Yes, Merino deserves much credit for the start he made at St James’ Park in appearing in all of their opening nine Premier League games last season, in which time he netted the winner in their narrow 1-0 success over Crystal Palace.

Yet the Spain youth international then suffered a back injury which forced him to sit out their next three league games, and while he came back into the squad after that, he never looked the same player.

In fact, Merino started just two league matches in 2018 to underline his lowly position in Benitez’s pecking order, which was somewhat down to his own struggles for form, but also as a result of the efforts of the other central midfielders at the club, what with Isaac Hayden, Mo Diame, and Jonjo Shelvey producing the goods.

And while he was given the occasional substitute cameo as the season drew to a close in a bid to prove his worth to Benitez, the 22-year-old simply was unable to re-discover his early campaign form, which prompted the Magpies to sell the midfielder to Real Sociedad during the close season.

Thus, while Merino did make something of an impact at Newcastle last term, those Newcastle fans thrilled with his addition and looking forward to the long-term with the 22-year-old in the side clearly got it completely wrong.

Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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