By Russell Edge

25th Jan, 2018 | 7:20pm

Report: Top flight side eye reignited swoop for Newcastle fans' favourite to replace £57m man

Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino is being eyed up by Spanish side Athletic Bilbao as a potential replacement for defender Aymeric Laporte, according to a report.
Spanish publication El Correo claim on their website that the La Liga club are looking to source a signing to take the place of the 23-year-old centre back, with Manchester City said to be on the verge of securing a £57million (€65million) move for the Frenchman.
It is said that among the options is Newcastle midfielder Merino, who is said to have been a target for Bilbao when at Borussia Dortmund, but the board’s inability to agree on making a move saw the Magpies steal in and secure his signing, initially on loan before turning it into a permanent deal with a contract until 2022.
The 21-year-old midfielder has quickly turned into a fans’ favourite on Tyneside with his industrious performances in the centre of the park, and has made a total of 19 appearances across all competitions, scoring once.
Football Insider verdict
Newcastle fans would not be happy if the club were to let Merino depart less than six months after his arrival, with many viewing him as a future star not only for the club but for his country. He undoubtedly has the talent to succeed already, but at such a young age he is only going to grow and develop, and the Toon Army will be hoping that he does so at St James’ Park. Only a big money move would convince the Magpies to sell up, and if that were to be the case then really there can be no complaints from supporters, as everyone has their price. Still, it would be a huge shame to lose him, but considering he is not a centre back to replace Laporte, a move seems unlikely.
In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club are just £1.25million away from securing the signing of an international star.

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