By Russell Edge
Newcastle United midfield star Mikel Merino has been lined up for a transfer move by a trio of La Liga clubs, according to a report.
Spanish football news source El Gol Digital claim that Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, alongside their fellow La Liga side Athletic Bilbao, are all interested in the 21-year-old’s services after emerging as a hot prospect on Tyneside.
The report also states that Merino would not be allowed to leave for anything less than £17.6million (€20million) if the Spanish sides did want to take him back to his homeland.
The central midfielder joined Newcastle on an initial year-long loan deal from German side Borussia Dortmund but impressed so much during the opening few fixtures of the season that the Magpies turned his temporary deal into a permanent one.
He had played seven games for the club before he signed a five-year deal, and has a total of nine appearances under his belt, the same amount he made during his season at Dortmund, although has been ruled out of the last two fixtures through injury.
Football Insider verdict
There is unlikely to be a single Newcastle United fan in the world who believes that the club should let Merino depart any time soon, having emerged as a firm favourite among the Toon Army. He is the sort of signing the club have been failing to secure in recent years, and his performances alone provide a huge lift in morale around the club. There is no doubt he is one of, if not the, brightest prospect Rafael Benitez has at his disposal and while £17million may be tempting, he will be worth so much more in years to come. Merino has already left one giant of world football due to a lack of playing time and he is not guaranteed a place at any of the La Liga sides, which should also boost Newcastle’s hopes of keeping their midfield maestro.
In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club are eyeing up a double swoop from La Liga.