Great news on Friday morning, as Rafa Benitez welcomes Mikel Merino as a permanent member of his squad.

Newcastle United having announced that the initial loan has turned into a five year permanent contract, lasting until summer 2022.

Interesting to see that Rafa Benitez has released a statement via his own personal website, talking about the midfielder signing up for five years.

This isn’t something the United boss has tended to do for his other Newcastle signings…

Maybe he sees Mikel Merino as his ‘special one’!

Rafa says that the 21 year old has ‘worked fantastically well’ and has ‘settled in straight away to the squad, the club and the city itself’.

Rafa Benitez via his own personal website:

“We today have the pleasure of officially announcing the excellent news that Mikel Merino has become a Newcastle United FC player on a permanent basis.

“After initially joining the club on loan, he has now made his move into a permanent one.

“I must say that since becoming a member of our squad, he has worked fantastically well, has produced some very good performances and has settled in straight away to the squad, the club and the city itself.

“In addition to his quality on the ball, he’s a player who goes about his work with great enthusiasm, which will be a key factor when it comes to his short, medium and long-term future.

“I think that he’s a good professional and from the very beginning he’s made a real impression amongst our supporters.

“He’s got great belief in what he can achieve and his own ability and, given his age, he still has time to make considerable progress.

“The key is clearly for him to continue working as he has been doing up until now: working hard and with real intensity as he keeps on producing the performances.

“If he does so, I’m certain that he’ll improve and will come to enjoy his football all the more.”