Disclaimer: This is NOT an article slagging off Mikel Merino.

I repeat, signing Mikel Merino is not a bad thing, or at least I hope it isn’t.

However, I do find what many other people are saying, is a little strange.

Imagine back when Newcastle United were desperate for quality signings at various times under Alan Pardew, and then consider if the silver fox had came out telling us what a great signing he’d just found, and it was a loan player who had just turned 21 and played all of his previous first team football in the Spanish second division, apart from two starts in the Bundesliga.

I don’t need to spell it out, we all know what the reaction would have been with Pardew held up for ridicule.

The thing is though, we like Rafa Benitez, and more importantly, we trust him.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that Mikel Merino is a loan player (with possibility of permanent deal) who turned 21 last month, who played two seasons in the Spanish second division for Osasuna before making a £3m move to Borussia Dortmund where he started two league matches last season.

We are in the unknown here, yet if you use social media, Rafa’s fifth signing of the summer has been met by many with grand claims of what he can do this season.

Hopefully he will do great things but a number of Newcastle fans are treating the signing of Mikel Merino as a masterstroke, as though Rafa has spotted something that nobody else has – but what are they basing their opinion on?

Do they watch a lot of Spanish second division football?

Or were they blown away by what he did in Borussia Dortmund’s home draws against Hertha Berlin and Augsburg last season?

Others mention about his involvement in this summer’s Under 21s European Championships, Mikel Merino only started one game and that was the third group match against Serbia when Spain had already qualified, plus the midfielder dropped back to play centre-back in that game.

Or is the reality that some fans have become experts on Merino due to picking him on Football Manager and/or seeing a YouTube compilation?

We can hope that Merino will prove an inspired signing but putting such unrealistic expectations on a player who has achieved nothing yet and who has started only two top flight matches in his whole career, is quite mad.

Putting such expectations on a young inexperienced player is a recipe for disaster, we have spent fortunes on players from overseas in the past and many of them have crumbled under the weight of expectation when thrown into the team and not adjusting.

Rafa Benitez showed little interest last season in gambling on young players to get Newcastle United out of the Championship, only the then 21 year old (turned 22 in March) Isaac Hayden proved an exception.

This is surely a signing that should be rated as one for the future, or at least it would in normal circumstances.

These though are not normal circumstances and you have to also ask yourself, if the United boss had a decent budget available, would he still be looking to bring in a player like Mikel Merino, who still has it all to prove.

Even if early results are poor, I hope that Rafa Benitez still feels able to take it slowly with the young Spanish midfielder and ease him into first team involvement when the player is ready.

When Mikel Merino does play, look at it as a bonus in terms of what he can contribute in the Premier League this season, don’t be throwing your hands in the air if he struggles.

This is the reality, a young player who needs to make a massive step up on what he has done before.

Keep the faith but also keep a firm grip on reality.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • Damon Horner

    I agree, his record doesn’t say he will hit the ground running, might need to be a little patient with him while he adapts to the league., Hayden and Shelvey will probably start as first choice.

    • X,WHY,Y MAN.

      The problem with that being a promoted side does not have that luxury !

      • Damon Horner

        what luxury is that? we have two players in Hayden and Shelvey who can start the season and when our early cup games come it could be the time to to give him a run out. Once suspensions and injuries inevitably come, he should be better prepared, if we only had two midfielders, one being Merino, then i’d agree with that but we have players who can play ahead of him.

        • X,WHY,Y MAN.

          Hayden has not proved himself at top level and Shelvey has also been found wanting with Swansea.
          We really need a midfielder coming in who is better than those two let alone an understudy !

  • Leazes Ender

    Excellent appraisal Dean, I couldn’t have put it better.

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    You are not wrong to write this article because there should be a “Proceed With Caution” here with this signing.
    I said as much myself in a comment yesterday and I think it is a valid reason given the way we have been burned in recent times.
    As pointed out to me in a reply to my comment that the upside of the situation is : We are not shelling out a transfer fee.

    I just hope the lad works out but we need players who you know can do a job at this level.
    Unknown quantities are too much of a risk even if they are Try Before You Buy…

    • Phil K

      Good way of summing up the lad. “Proceed with caution”. Also recall he’s 21 for Gods sake. Rafa CAN mould him, and he got in the Spanish under 21’s. Hardly a Saivet or Riviere or Hidara

      • Anita kick up the Hoop

        Mood him? … Mitrovic is 22 and a regular scorer at international AND champions league level … Raffa should be moulding Mitro as well then shouldn’t he rather than writing his potential off? … and it was for his potential that we signed him remember.. centre forwards don’t mature at 22 .. if he was the finished article we couldn’t afford him .. same goes for Mbemba.. we specifically bought him for his potential.. a full international.. should he be “Moulded” or written off?

        • hetonmag

          There you go again doubting Rafa give it up man.

      • X,WHY,Y MAN.

        How do you arrive at that opinion seeing that the lad has had very little in the way of first team football ?
        If you have some insider knowledge to the contrary then share it because there is very little to back up your claim he isn’t a Saivet or a Riviere.

  • LeroyGibbs

    Where you’ve gone wrong with this article is by trying to make out that Rafa’s judgement is suspect, By comparing what is, after all, a world-class manager with a nugget like Pardeaux.
    I suspect Rafa will develop this player a lot more quickly than described in your negative view.
    Cheers
    Leroy

    • Leazes Ender

      Do you think Rafa scouted him personally?

      • Phil K

        Do you recall Souness when playing ? He was dropped by Spurs, and brought on at Boro

        • Anita kick up the Hoop

          And ?

        • Leazes Ender

          I remember him choosing Liverpool over us?

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      Raffa’s judgment has to be questioned .. he signed Sells, Hanley, Diame and Lazar .. he also played Colback .. frightening

      • hetonmag

        Rafa was quoted as saying he won’t get everything right, much the same as every top class manager.

        • Anita kick up the Hoop

          Well there you go then, he isn’t infallible, therefore his judgment has to be questioned!
          Given the success rate of last seasons transfer business was about 50% good vs bad .. would you say we can afford a similar success rate this season going into the premiership and facing clubs armed with bags of TV money?

          • hetonmag

            No manager is infallible doesn’t matter who it is but we have the best man we could ever hope to get, seems to me you don’t trust his judgment.

          • Anita kick up the Hoop

            I never said that, I said you should question him .. you should question any manager, I questioned Keegan and Robson on occasion.. and they were brilliant for this club .. they did get some transfers wrong though … none as bad as Lazar, Hanley, Sells and Diame mind

          • Kneebotherm8

            No manager in the world has a 100% transfer strike rate,Rafa included. I’d still rather have the manager at the football club picking the players rather than Carr.

          • Anita kick up the Hoop

            I didn’t say any manager had a perfect success rate.. I said every manager should be questioned .. Carr out forward a lot of players .. Ashley selected the bargains.

          • Kneebotherm8

            Every manager is,and should be,questioned,who said they weren’t?
            Carr did put forward a lot of players and look where it got us.

          • Anita kick up the Hoop

            Carr recommended some fantastic players including Modric, Errikson,Lacazette, Aubamayang,Vertongen,Dele Ali,Dier,Alderwield .. you can look to the owner for final decisions

          • Kneebotherm8

            Not one of them signed,because him or the manager, at the time,didn’t have the [email protected] to push for their signatures. Hopefully the present incumbent will be able to push for these types of,potentially,massive signings to become a reality for us.

          • Anita kick up the Hoop

            Can you tell me if a 50% success rate will be acceptable this transfer window? .. will you still refuse to question Raffa’s judgment if that happens again?

      • X,WHY,Y MAN.

        Rafa is a good manager but is having to put up with the shady goings on of Mike Ashley just as every other manager has had to do since he rocked up in 2007.
        That is probably why Rafa will never be able to give this a right go and it will probably end with him walking away in the not too distant.

    • steve

      Rafa’s history in the transfer market has been chequered throughout his career, particularly when he’s been given a substantial budget. Pardew on the other hand has a pretty solid success rate on signings,at least initially.

      • Anita kick up the Hoop

        Pardew had little say in transfers .. he went for a number two when Ashley broke wind

      • Kneebotherm8

        Do you seriously believe Pardew signed or identified any players?

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      Why didn’t Raffa “develop” Sells, Lazar or Diame then ?

  • G Doon Unda

    Isn’t it funny how we all miss the elephant in the room. This signing maybe a positive, who knows, how about the young fella moving to Everton ? Its small potatoes, a distraction. If someone came up to you and said, “Here is fifty thousand pounds bet on 1 team to go down and you will treble it, would you pick us? What would you do ? Am I the only realist who thinks we just scraped out of a division, with the bare minimum? We need proven players. This smacks of Ashley hoping for the best.

    • Damon Horner

      Only elephant in the room is Ashley and he can’t fit through the door so unfortunately we’re stuck with the elephant in the room.

      Think it’s a bit harsh to say we scraped out when we scored most, conceded least, promotion gap of 9 points and most points in the division since we last won it aside from the team who went on to win the PL.

      My worry about “proven players” is what people perceive as proven because in my view, £25mil on somebody with James McCarthy’s record is madness.

  • Peter Stabler

    I just hope that the scouting is a bit more meaningful that looking at a couple of youtube vids and listening to social media and checking the valuation on a website – from the professionals that is – fans with no responsibilities – say what you want….

  • rickyd

    Stinks of FATSHLEY and PENFOLD (btw, does anyone else think Carr still runniing the show and he’s just been ‘sacked’ cos of his role as a HMRC tax fraudster? – this has his makings all over it). What no one considers is the lack of paarachute payments and SISSOKO MONEY mean we can’t even compete with behemoths like Stoke and West Ham (supposedly). Club is rotten to the core

    • Jezza

      We can’t even compete with Championship clubs likes Wolves and Middlesboriugh.

    • Jezza

      “does anyone else think Carr still runniing the show and he’s just been ‘sacked’ cos of his role as a HMRC tax fraudster?”

      Excellent point. I had never thought of that but it makes a lot of sense.

  • Anita kick up the Hoop

    I agree 100% .. so many people and everyone at the Chronicle are acting like we’ve signed a sure thing,a guaranteed Premiership performer who will slot into our side and provide the quality we desperately need for the season ahead … I hope he does just that … but the truth is, we don’t know, Raffa doesn’t know and Lee Ryder sure as hell doesn’t know (much at all really) .. when you buy unproven players you hope for the best .. Ashley’s entire tenure has been a roll of the dice!

  • Phil K

    If Rafa sees something the rest of us doesn’t, thats OK by me. He’ll always get a chance here.

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      Of course he’ll get a chance .. but you also have the have an opinion

  • Mike

    the squad is not equipped to cope with the prem. we have to get some experienced players in or i fear the worst

  • Steve Pearce

    I’ve said before that Rafa is like Peter Taylor as he has the uncanny ability to scout and sign a player that most other clubs would ignore. I love the Chronicle and Ryder knockers by the way. The Chronicle website is so slow to load due to the unwanted videos that it makes a slug look like a Eurofighter by comparison and Ryder is just a boring, Sissoko-fixated [email protected]…..

    • Leazes Ender

      The Sainted John Gibson weighed into the debate saying nobody knows what these new players are like, however he says he has to trust Rafa because…… well the player is Spanish…..

      The Chronicle are funny without realising it.

      • Steve Pearce

        No they’re not funny – just absolute shyte which is why I use The Mag….

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    We may have the new Sergio Busquets, then again we may not

  • TheFatController

    why are there numerous articles on here after signings are made that run as follows ;-

    – generalize that every supporter reacted to the signing with over-optimistic ‘second coming of christ’ enthusiasm
    – suggest how ‘you’d not have been so enthusiastic had Pardew/MacLaren signed him’
    – patronize these ‘contrived supporters with second coming reactions’ by telling them where they have it very wrong and need a reality check – happily given by the writer and endorsed (?) by people with superior knowledge of the game

    There can be nothing more patronizing than telling Mag readers that an U21 player should not be expected to play like a 28 year old PL player. Who reading this do you think can’t get their head around ’20 year old Dortmund squad player bought for the future not now…’? And who do you think is enlightened by you publishing this insight and revelation on here…?

    • Lord

      Don’t fret, we’ll have some football to talk about in a few weeks. Until then….

      • TheFatController

        i actually did think earlier ‘just get the games started and then the window shut’

  • Wor Monga

    Comparing Rafa with Pardew…and yet you still manage to put a negative spin on things for your ardent fans to savour, Dean…how many times has Pardew been invited to manage clubs and sign players for clubs like Inter, Real Madrid,Liverpool, and Chelsea etc…how many times has he lifted some of the top
    trophies in Europe…ok, I accept Rafa’s never had the (singularly dubious) honour of doing a victory dance at Wembley before the game had finished, but that’s not his style anyway…

    …not only that but in this article your arrogance regarding foreign clubs surfaces in the way you also dismiss the ability of Borussia Dortmund to be able to recognise quality in a young player when they see it…that’s a club that finished 3rd in the German League (after Bayern and Leipzig), and went out in the Quarter finals of the CL, last season…not a lesser club from what you commonly regard as the ‘weaker’ foreign leagues either, and a club with many top internationals in it’s ranks…

    …Merino is not a player who is playing each week in a middle of the road French, Dutch or Belgian club…he’s a young player trying to break into a team that is easily up on a level with Arsenal, Liverpool or Man U…now ask yourself how many of their young U21 internationals would you be quibling about in the same puerile way?

    …All managers make mistakes…that goes with the job, but to call players like Sels, Lazaar, Gamez, Hanley etc mistakes is way off beam… Rafa had to quickly
    bring in players to turn the club around and he did just that…any other manager Pardew included wouldn’t have known where to start, and we’d have been
    playing the mackems and Boro this year like Villa, and Norwich are!!!

    • Steve Smith

      I’d put Dortmund above the level of Arsenal, Man U and Liverpool.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Pardew could NEVER have signed Merino- for the simple fact he’s not French!!

  • Tynewalker

    How many had Hayden played in PL yet I guess most supporters are quite positive about him. I really rate him and hopefully Mikel will develop into a good player.

    • Clarko

      Why do you rate him?

  • Adam Scott

    By sports Germany pundit don Hutchinson rates him (good enough for me)