Newcastle United are ready to offload fan favourite Mikel Merino as he attracts attention from Athletic Bilbao, according to a report.
Spanish news outlet Marca claims that the Magpies are prepared to listen to offers for Merino, 21, and Bilbao are keeping very close tabs after it was confirmed that Aymeric Laporte has left Manchester City for £57million.
The Premier League leaders announced on Tuesday the signing of Laporte on their official Twitter account.


Merino became an instant hit with the fans this season when he signed from Borussia Dortmund on loan.
The Spanish defensive midfielder was so impressive that it took until just October before Newcastle make the decision to activate a clause in his contract to sign him for £8million on a permanent basis.
He has made 19 appearances in all competitions for the Magpies since joining, but has not started any of the club’s last three Premier League fixtures.
Football Insider verdict
There is no way that Newcastle would let Merino leave St James’ Park at this moment in time. Rafa Benitez clearly must offload players in order to bring some in, but there’s no way he is desperate enough to let Merino go. Or is he? Merino would no doubt be worth more than the £8million paid for him and Bilbao have made a huge amount of money by selling Laporte. If Benitez can potentially pocket a good fee for someone he has not started in the league since December, then surely he may consider it. It would probably to be a large sum though in excess of £20million, but it seems unlikely the Spanish side will fork out that much.
In other Newcastle United news, the Magpies have made a stunning offer for this £120,000-a-week West Ham player.
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