Mikel Merino is loving it at Newcastle.
Left out again on Saturday after losing his place when on international duty, the Spaniard came off the bench and scored the vital winner against Crystal Palace.
Mikel Merino loves the north east countryside and beaches and says there is much more to do on Tyneside than when he lived in Dortmund.
He arrived with expectations that he would be met by cold and not kind people…but instead says ‘when I walk the streets the Newcastle fans show me their love’.
Merino wants to be good on the ball like your typical quality Spanish midfielder but also enjoys the physical side of the game, which he is enjoying in England.
Newcastle supporters have taken an instant liking to the Spanish Under 21 star and the feeling is mutual, Mikel Merino believing he can satisfy both club and country ambitions whilst playin for Newcastle.
Mikel Merino talking to The Guardian:
“In Dortmund no one recognised me but when I walk the streets the Newcastle fans show me their love.
“I’m really happy with the people in Newcastle, they’re very kind, always trying to help you. I didn’t expect that.
“I thought English people would be cold, dry and not kind but I was wrong and I’m happy about it. I didn’t expect all the laughter and jokes you have here.
“I live 15 minutes from the city centre and it’s so close to the countryside and the coast, I often go to the beaches here – there’s much more to do in Newcastle than in Dortmund. I feel at home here.
“It (call-up for Spanish senior side) is probably not ready to happen right now but I hope to be in the squad in the near future.
“I think I can achieve that playing for Newcastle; why not?
“Growing up in Spain you’re expected to play tiki-taka and I like that type of football but I can do other things too. I want to be good with the ball but I’m tall and quite physical and I’m trying to be a complete midfielder.
“In Spain you learn that football has to be played in the head; it’s not only running and physical things.
“Spain has always had great central midfielders and, while of course they’re good technically, they are also very good mentally. They know what to do and when, and they’re always thinking about the game and how they can help their team.
“We are a young squad and the most important thing is that we all trust each other, I’m learning a lot from Rafa. I always had ability to read games but I’m understanding more now.
“He looks after the small tactical details and teaches you how every single little thing can be important. In training he’s very professional and expects you to be completely focused but off the pitch Rafa’s a really nice guy. He always takes care of you.”