Mikel Merino has spoken to Spanish publication AS on his return to the international scene with his country’s Under-21 side.
The midfielder made it abundantly clear that he was settled on Tyneside last week when asked for some clarification on his future after being linked with Athletic Bilbao back in January.
Hot on the heels of Merino’s interview with the Chronicle a new claim from the Spanish media suggested that the 21-year-old was still a target of Athletic Bilbao with the story even going on to report that Newcastle were “willing to accept” a fee of £13million for a player they have tied down until 2022.
Such talk was said to have been laughed off by those behind the scenes at Newcastle, with Rafa Benitez trying to build a team for the future.
The same can be said of speculation linking Jamaal Lascelles with West Ham, something that won’t happen as long as Benitez is in charge at United.
For Merino, there seems to be no let up when it comes to linking him with a move back to Spain.
Headlines today suggest that Merino wants to “return to the Spanish league” but not anytime soon when you factor in his words last week.
Merino does say he’d go back to Spain “someday” but the same could be said of most overseas players that pull on a Toon shirt, so it’s no big deal.
Such interviews tend to be amplified during international breaks as clubs lose control of player interviews and the Premier League break results in more transfer speculation than normal at this time of year.
United and Benitez will hardly be impressed after one of their younger players was allowed to be exposed to a probing interview about moving to a new club just months after signing on a permanent deal.
When asked if he would go back to La Liga at some stage, Merino said: “Yes.”
But then went on: “I am very happy to be in the Premier and the experience in the Bundesliga, but someday I would like to return to the Spanish League.”
Merino was then pressed on further on his future and asked about recent speculation linking him with Bilbao to which he replied: “The fact that both Athletic and other teams are playing is a sign that you are doing things right.
“I am very grateful for the interest they put in each market because it means that I’m doing things right.”
Not content with that answer a third question about playing at Bilbao’s San Mamés Stadium was then pushed Merino’s way.
He simply replied: “You can never guess where you are going to play.”
When asked if he could gain that much sought after first senior cap AND play for the Magpies, Merino said: “It would be great if that Spanish cap comes when I am a Newcastle United player.
“I know I am at a great club and Newcastle is a great place too.
“This is a great scenario to show everybody what I can do.
“If I am able to play for Newcastle and Spain at senior level that will be great.
“I am enjoying the city. It’s different for me as I am used to seeing more sun, eating different food, and it is hard to live without the things you are used to.
“But I think I am used to living in Newcastle and enjoy it.
“The weather may be cold but the Geordie people are very warm.
“They make it a warm city.
“That is the great thing about Newcastle, the people are so kind you don’t even know it has dipped beneath three degrees!”