Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino has confirmed that he is plotting to return to Spain once he eventually leaves the Magpies and that he is “grateful” for the reported interest coming his way.

The 21-year-old arrived at St James’ Park from Borussia Dortmund last summer, initially on a season-long loan, but after impressing both manager Rafael Benitez and the Toon Army, he put pen to paper on a permanent deal.

His early season form quickly established him as a firm favourite on Tyneside but injuries have curtailed his development, limiting him to just 23 appearances across all competitions.

Despite not hitting the expected heights, there have been claims by Spanish publication AS that mid-table side Athletic Bilbao, who sit 13th in La Liga, are interested in signing him this summer, and he admits a return to Spain is on his mind.

He told AS: “Someday I would like to return to the Spanish League.

“The fact that both Athletic and other teams are interested is a sign that you are doing things right.

“I am very grateful for the interest they put in each market because it means that I’m doing things right.”

Football Insider verdict

While Merino obviously wants a return home at some point, he has a long term contract at Newcastle and seems determined to make his time on Tyneside a success. He has bags of potential and at just 21-years-old, the Magpies have only seen what he has to offer now. Under Rafael Benitez, he can grow into a powerful midfielder and the Toon Army should be very excited about the coming years. There is going to be interest in his signing every summer and winter, simply because of how much talent he has at such a young age, but there will likely be a hefty price tag slapped on his head to ward off potential suitors. 

In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club are looking to snipe a Premier League rival for a top flight bargain.

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