The upcoming summer transfer period will be a time for change at St James' Park, although it seems that one promising talent is now set to depart Tyneside.
Reports this week have stated that Mikel Merino wants to leave the Magpies, and that he has expressed these thoughts directly to Rafa Benitez.
Originally it was felt by many that the move to Newcastle was a "stepping stone" for the Spanish international and he was simply trying out the Premiership to add to his CV. But the 21-year-old is frustrated with his lack of first-team play.
Merino is focused on making his way from the youth ranks of La Roja to the senior squad, and extended time on the bench is not going to help him receive a call-up from manager Julen Lopetegui.
An 'exclusive' from online media outlet TEAMTalk claim Mikel Merino has now asked to leave Newcastle this summer with Athletic Bilbao the favourites to land the midfielder. #NUFC
1:17 PM - Apr 3, 2018
Rumours of his potential switch to Athletic Bilbao have appeared before, and Merino would undoubtedly have no problem with transferring to a La Liga side that can offer a starting role.
After encouraging outings early in the season, Newcastle were quick to make his loan deal from Borussia Dortmund permanent.
Skilled on the ball and possessing excellent vision, Merino’s future as a midfielder appears extremely bright. However, he also needs to be on the pitch and competing in matches.
The obstacle in front of Merino at the moment is Benitez’s current central combination, with Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame performing well in the middle of the line-up.
The manager is pleased with their production, and results are providing points for the Toon. That could of course not be the case next season, but Merino may ultimately not want to take that chance.