Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino has told manager Rafa Benitez that he wants to quit St James’ Park, according to a report.
TeamTalk claims that Athletic Bilbao are interested in signing Merino, 21, just months after he agreed a five-year permanent deal on Tyneside after making his loan switch from Borussia Dortmund permanent for a total fee of £8million.
It is understood that Merino has become unsettled by Benitez’s decision to drop him from the first-team in recent weeks and would now look to return to his home nation to play for Bilbao.
Merino quickly became a fan favourite to the Newcastle supporters after a series of fine displays when he first arrived in the Premier League so it will no doubt be a major blow to the Toon Army to see one of the club’s star players wanting to leave.
He was a mainstay of Benitez’ starting line-up but has now started just three times in the last 13 Premier League fixtures and was not in the matchday squad for the 1-0 win against Huddersfield at the weekend.
Football Insider verdict
It’s easy to see why Merino may be frustrated but he needs to be patient and eventually he will start to get back into the starting line-up. The Spanish midfielder is seriously talented and you could instantly see that he had potential to be a star in the future. Quitting on the Premier League at this stage is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction though and Benitez needs to sit down with him and talk this over. Bilbao only sign Basque players so their interest in Merino is going to naturally occur.
In other Newcastle United news, fans slammed this one player for his “horrific” performance in the win against Huddersfield.