It is easy to forget just how good Mikel Merino was in the early stages of the season.

Coming into the Premier League at the age of only 21, having only played a couple of previous matches in the top division of any country.

He was instrumental in the early wins over Swansea, Stoke, West Ham, and Crystal Palace, getting rave reviews from many fans.

A back injury intervened and then sporadic appearances didn’t suggest a real return to form, only two PL starts after December, with Shelvey and Diame really stepping it up.

It was interesting when we recently asked Newcastle fans (see below) which players should definitely be kept for next season.

An impressive figure of 84% of supporters included Mikel Merino in their ones to keep.

It is always difficult for a team not competing at the top, to keep players who aren’t getting a game and subsequently want to leave.

As for the player himself, he appears to be very relaxed about the whole situation.

I’m guessing he is somebody who falls into the category of Rafa definitely wanting to keep him – but if the right offer comes in then he could trade, to help buy the goalscorers this team/squad needs.

Mikel Merino speaking to Radio Marca Navarra:

“Every market there are (transfer) rumours of all kinds.

“Right now I just want to enjoy the holidays with my family.

“What happens will happen…but for now I just focus on enjoying myself.

“I’m not worried about what happens.

“If something does happen then the agents will call my parents and they will then communicate it to me, but I’m not spending all day waiting for my mobile to ring.

“The decisions that the coaches take (when I was left out last season) we have to respect,

“I cannot do more than what I did, to train and be ready when I’m chosen.

“I learned a lot during my first season in England, especially at the beginning of the season when I played more and was able to adapt to top-level football.

“In the Premier League each game is a war and the pace is high, so it has been very good for me to learn.”

When we asked thousands of Newcastle fans, which players should definitely be kept for next season – all results were rounded up/down to the nearest whole percentage point:

99% Jonjo Shelvey

98% Jamaal Lascelles

92% Mohamed Diame

95% Florian Lejeune

94% Matt Ritchie

90% Paul Dummett

90% DeAndre Yedlin

86% Ayoze Perez

84% Mikel Merino

70% Jacob Murphy

61% Christian Atsu

54% Ciaran Clark

50%  Isaac Hayden

37% Karl Darlow

36% Aleksandar Mitrovic

25% Rob Elliot

23% Dwight Gayle

19% Rolando Aarons

12% Chancel Mbemba

9% Javier Manquillo

6% Joselu

5% Henri Saivet

3% Matz Sels

2% Achraf Lazaar

2% Jack Colback

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    We need to keep the kid because if Jonjo gets injured or banned Merino is the only other central midfield player that can actually play football & if he did leave then God only knows who`d replace him

  • Dillon Tovak

    I could understand him getting bored of being on the bench but he should concentrate on fully recovering from his back injury and eventually he’ll be back in the side.

  • Gianfranco Shola

    This lad is a quality footballer! His dribbling, his passing, even his long range shooting he has all the hallmarks of becoming a fantastic central midfielder in the mould of a Spanish architect. Rafa isn’t daft he’ll see that and will be desperate to see him develop here

    • Leazes.


      • TheNutJob

        that makes him a star for the Toon then

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        You really a clueless oil.

  • TheFatController

    I doubt Rafa would let him go, I am sure he knows he’ll be using him plenty if we are going to go for the cups for once and have two games a week potentially- plus Diame is no spring chicken, good as he has been recently …

  • Vodkamagpie

    Gifted player, unlucky diame and jonjo were playing so well. Rafa will desperately try and put him in the starting eleven

  • Paul Patterson

    Young lad that unfortunately got injured and other players played well. He’ll be back stronger next season. .

  • Foggy

    I know it is not his game at the moment, but I often wondered if Rafa could convert him to a number 10. He is too good a player to have on the bench.

  • robbersdog

    I like him as a player, and I’ve got a feeling that if we sold him, we’ll regret it in a couple of years time when he emerges as a bit of a star somewhere else. He’s a current Spanish U21 international, and he’s got the potential to be a great player for us.

  • Mrkgw

    I quite like Merino but he is far, far from the finished and complete article yet. ‘If’ he is sold then I won’t lose too much sleep over it.

  • Wor Lass

    What I can`t credit is that 2% of people who responded wouldn`t keep Jamaal!

  • GeordieZebra

    “In the balance” seems extreme. He doesn’t really indicate he’s thinking of pastures new.

  • 5floorshigh

    Looks a great player but needs games to improve at premiership level, often gets caught in possession and can dwell on the ball for too long, needs to look at creating more space for himself so he can get his head up and pick out passes quicker. Hopefully he stays, but without injuries to others, not sure where Rafa will play him.

  • Wezza147

    Wouldn’t surprise me if he is sold, making a profit and not seeing any of the money for Rafa.

  • Lhc

    He can go, his attitude for months has screamed wants to back to spain.