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
25% Rob Elliot
23% Dwight Gayle
19% Rolando Aarons
12% Chancel Mbemba
9% Javier Manquillo
5% Henri Saivet
3% Matz Sels
2% Achraf Lazaar
2% Jack Colback