Date: 23rd March 2018 at 6:26pm
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Newcastle United have no intention of selling midfielder Mikel Merino this summer despite a report claiming he was up for sale, according to a reliable journalist.

The Chronicle’s chief sports writer Lee Ryder has claimed on the newspaper’s daily live blog (23/03, 16:02) that the Spanish 21-year-old is settled on Tyneside after his summer move and that contrary to claims from the continent, the club would not be entertaining his potential exit.

Spanish publication AS had reported that the Magpies would be ready to sanction what would be a shock exit for the midfield star, with a fee of £13million (€15million) being mooted, and that La Liga side Athletic Bilbao would look at revisiting their failed swoop from January at the end of the season.

Merino arrived at Newcastle on an initial year-long loan from Borussia Dortmund but turned it into a permanent move not shortly after, impressing in his first few performances and establishing himself as a fan favourite, so Ryder rubbishing the claims will be a dream update for the Toon Army.

Football Insider verdict

The claims from Spain seemed pretty left field, especially considering how highly rated Merino is on Tyneside, so Ryder pouring cold water all over them should come as no surprise. The 21-year-old might not have lived up to his early season expectations but his talent has been clear for all to see, and under Rafael Benitez’s tutelage, he is only going to grow and develop into a better player. While Bilbao may well be interested, considering their rules on only signing players from the Basque region, it would take an awful lot more money to prise Merino away from Tyneside, and although they have a swollen transfer kitty after the sale of Aymeric Laporte, they are unlikely to meet the Magpies’ price tag.

In other Newcastle United news, one senior stalwart is being eyed up for a shock switch this summer.

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