Mikel Merino could return to La Liga if Newcastle United are relegated, according to reports from Spain on Wednesday morning.

Athletic Bilbao will move for the midfielder according to Gol Digital, if Newcastle go down.

The La Liga side confident they could attract the player if Merino no longer had Premier League football.

With it always being a constant battle to keep up the quality of the team with Basque players, Athletic Bilbao fans were gutted when Mikel Merino chose Newcastle over their club in the summer.

Newcastle paid an initial £2.7m loan fee back in July and then when he played a required number of games for Newcastle, a contract clause was triggered and NUFC paid a further £6.5m to make the deal permanent.

After starring earlier in the season when Newcastle were picking up wins and points, Mikel Merino’s absence coincided with a slump in form.

Having now fully recovered from his back injury, the Spanish Under 21 star looked somewhere close to his best at Arsenal on Saturday, despite the defeat.

The midfielder rated Newcastle’s top player in our poll of fans.

Relegation is always the great unknown, when it comes to whether players, or even managers, will stay.

Little doubt as well that if Newcastle did take the drop, then Mikel Merino would be one of the club’s most saleable assets.

Needless to say, keeping the best players – along with many other things, rests on staying up. Hopefully a point or better at West Ham on Saturday will be the start of a revival towards safety.

Borussia Dortmund Official Statement – 13 October 2017 – after permanent Mikel Merino transfer confirmed:

“Merino Merino, 21, who has been on loan at Newcastle United since July 2017, has transferred to the English Premier League club on a permanent basis.

“The initial loan deal has been made permanent because the terms agreed when the contract was signed have been fulfilled.

“The Spain U21 international joined Borussia Dortmund from Osasuna in the summer of 2016, making nine appearances in the Bundesliga and DFB Cup during his sole season in Germany.

“BVB this summer agreed to the talented youngster’s request to complete an initial loan switch to Newcastle United.

“Merino has played in each of the first seven games of the season for the Magpies, who currently sit in ninth place in the English top flight.

“Borussia Dortmund wish Mikel Merino all the very best for his future at his new club.”

Borussia Dortmund Official Statement – 28 July 2017 – when Mikel Merino was signed on loan:

‘Borussia Dortmund midfielder Mikel Merino, 21, is set to complete a loan switch to newly-promoted Premier League outfit Newcastle United.

A binding purchase option was agreed with the English club for the event that the player features in a certain number of competitive matches.

The Spain U21 international joined Borussia Dortmund from CA Osasuna one year ago and made nine Bundesliga and DFB Cup appearances in his debut season in Germany.

“Mikel was not getting the playing time that he had hoped for given the range of high-quality options we have in the midfield positions. We have therefore agreed to his wish and wish him all the very best for the coming season in England,” said BVB Sporting Director Michael Zorc.’