As Newcastle/football fans we are all guilty of short-termism.

It is easy to forget how good or bad a player (or team) was in the early stages of a season, far easier to just think about the here and now, what has just happened.

You even get this over the course of just a single 90 minute match.

Somebody scores a brilliant goal and you totally ignore/forget the half a dozen sitters missed.

A goalkeeper makes a series of blinding saves but letting in a soft late goal and that is all anybody will remember/want to talk about.

These are extremes of course but we are all guilty of this to some extent.

With Mikel Merino eventually confirmed as a Real Sociedad player on Thursday, I came across this article below that I wrote in November.

It talked about the top football writers at The Mail who had picked out the best Premier League summer signing to have performed so far.

A back injury had ruled Mikel Merino by that point but two of the Mail journalists had seen more than enough in those opening three months of the season, to name the Spaniard as the PL top signing, even above Mo Salah.

Ian Herbert wrote ‘…his vision and ability on the ball has enabled him – a mere 21-year-old new to the English game – to become the cog of a moderate team.’

Meanwhile, Craig Hope declared ‘Mikel Merino only cost around £6.5million from Borussia Dortmund but already team-mates are talking of him being good enough for Real Madrid or Barcelona. The Spain Under-21 midfielder is a class act – enjoy him in the Premier League while it lasts!’

How prophetic those final words proved to be!

I’m not claiming that Mikel Merino will end up playing for Barca or Real Madrid but I don’t understand those Newcastle fans who almost celebrating the fact that he is leaving.

He is still a player with great potential, potential that we massively saw evidence of back in those early months of last season, and he could prove to be a very very good player that has slipped through our hands.

The Mag – 7 November 2018:

Mikel Merino was a big hit with the Newcastle fans from the first sightings early this season.

Idiots/attention seekers such as Graeme Souness chose to slaughter the 21 year old, for the mistake he made on his first start that helped lead to Huddersfield’s winner.

However, supporters could see that this was potentially a top quality signing.

Sure enough, Mikel Merino was Newcastle’s best player as Rafa’s team then followed up with 10 points from the next 15, culminating in the draw against Liverpool.

Having begun to get wider recognition as the national media woke up, Merino was then confirmed as a permanent signing for Newcastle.

However, a back injury picked up in the Liverpool match has prevented the midfielder starting any of the four games since.

No coincidence then maybe that Newcastle have won only one of these four recent games and that was when Mikel Merino came off the bench to score the only goal against Palace – the last two games/defeats against Burnley and Bournemouth particularly disappointing in his absence.

The second-half on Saturday would surely have not ended up such a ragged shambles, if the young cool-headed Spaniard had been there to put his foot on the ball.

Rafa Benitez says that they will be monitoring Merino’s back injury over the course of this international break and Newcastle fans will be desperately hoping he is back as soon as possible.

The international break is also a time for both fans and media to get reflective on how things have gone so far.

The Mail have asked their football journalists a number of questions about the Premier League season so far, including ‘Who has been the best Premier League signing so far?’.

Whilst others have gone for the likes of Mohamed Salah, two have made an inspired selection:

Ian Herbert:

“Mikel Merino, the Newcastle loanee, whom Rafa Benitez has monitored through the Spain youth ranks, does not have the complete game.

“Pace is the one aspect lacking.

“But his vision and ability on the ball has enabled him – a mere 21-year-old new to the English game – to become the cog of a moderate team.”

Craig Hope:

“I will pick a player on my North-East patch as I’ve seen more of Newcastle than anyone else.

“Mikel Merino only cost around £6.5million from Borussia Dortmund but already team-mates are talking of him being good enough for Real Madrid or Barcelona.

“The Spain Under-21 midfielder is a class act – enjoy him in the Premier League while it lasts!”



  • Paul Patterson

    Nobody is celebrating him leaving, but the key is the word ‘leaving’. He could’ve turned down a move/asked for a new contract without a release clause, but he chose to leave.
    No hard feelings, move on, but let’s not shed a tear over someone who has clearly used us as a bit of a stepping stone . .

    • Mark Potter

      And been carried away by media sensationalism, so that he took a huff when he didn’t get back in the team after his injury, because he thought he was better than he actually was and had done enough to guarantee himself a place.

      Around the time of those positive remarks about his ability, ie. before the January window opened, we had already seen rumours linking him to a move back to Spain. We didn’t know about his release clause, but Rafa clearly did, and his agent probably ensured Spanish clubs knew of it. The agent was probably already touting his client around Spain, telling them what they had missed out on by not buying him from Dortmund, and offering them a second go by triggering the release clause.

      With hindsight it’s possible that the club triggered the option to buy Merino so early, when they didn’t have to, simply for financial purposes. Otherwise he would have remained a Dortmund player and they would have sold him to Spain. By making him our player at least the club got a reasonable profit on the deal.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    He`s far from daft, he speaks good English & he`s bound to have taken in the situation at Newcastle in regards to the Obese One,
    he`s witnessed a manager who refuses to sign a new contract & not 1 quality permanent transfer coming in and it`s going to be another season of survival
    then the manager will leave.
    he`s best off in Spain rather than a shambles of a club

    • Mark Potter

      Is there no situation where you won’t twist it? If he was bound to have “taken in the situation” then why did he sign in the first place?

      Do you know the contractual situation of the manager who has signed him? In modern football, where managers can be sacked after just 4 or 5 games of a season, no sensible professional footballer would make any long-term decision about their career based mainly on the personality of the manager. Most players will outlive the managers that were at the club when they sign. Whatever PR statements they make, they must all know this.

      • Wor Lass

        He`s not talking about Rafa`s situation when Mikel signed. He`s talking about him refusing to sign an extended contract during this close season. Everyone knows about that. Also, how many times have you read about players saying that as soon as they knew Rafa was interested in signing them it was a no-brainer? Talking of no-brainers ……

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          But he’d know Rafa was here for another season, with the release clause, why would he not stay if that was the motivator?

          Ut seems simple, he didn’t come here to not play.

          • Wor Lass

            Agreed. He didn`t expect to be sitting on the bench watching. I`d like to know how big a problem that back injury is – he didn`t play much in Dortmund either.

    • Wor Lass

      Do you think “Mark Potter” is really Harry? Does that make him Ghostbuster as well?! It`s all so confusing!!

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        I blocked that idiot a while ago, he talks a load of krap & even basic comprehension is beyond him

  • Toon

    The Mail – nearly as rubbish as the guff that’s written on here! Who celebrating the fact he is leaving? Just sit and look at your season ticket and pictures of Keegan, safer for you

  • MagpieG

    He’s been agitating for a move since the turn of the year. Obviously didn’t settle. Spanish players love a release clause and that’s how we got him in the first place. Shame but no point trying to keep an unhappy player. Not sure what this article is on about though, I haven’t heard of anyone celebrating him leaving.

    • mentalman

      Its the law in spain to have one and they seem to apply it wherever they go

    • Mike D

      Are you kidding? I had all my mates round for bbq when he left. Booze flowed, banter bandied and, yeah, I just made that up.

  • Geordiegiants

    Let’s be be honest, he had about 3/4 good games, people going on about him being as good a signing as Salah is just ridiculous.

    • Mark Potter

      Didn’t Saleh not start the season that well? I don’t remember him being talked about as some major threat when we played Liverpool at SJP in the autumn, and the commentators said that at that point they didn’t know who was the best combination of forwards for Klopp, and doubted whether Klopp even knew. Sturridge was still being discussed as a better option.

      • Geordiegiants

        That was then this is now, Salah had an average start but came good consistently. Merino had a handful of decent games then done nothing.

        • Mark Potter

          Exactly. You can’t judge a player on a couple of games. And in our case, there seemed like alot of hype, given he was on loan and many weren’t expecting too much of him before the season started. After a couple of games All sorts of nonsense was being spouted likening him to Alonso and Iniesta. Asked about whether he was as good as Alonso, Rafa said politely, in his roundabout Spanglish way, no.

  • Wor Lass

    He`s clearly a good footballer but can he get himself fit enough to play regularly? Put him on the list of those players who had a couple of decent games for us and became a legend in some people`s minds – like Aarons and Mbabu.

    • Soldier

      he`s an excellent footballer.

    • I Think Therefore I Am Will

      Aye, a real shame he didn’t fancy it, maybe just to brassic up north? Sadly, another one we’ve had to let go, and out of Botfly’s hands for once, perhaps the one criticism being such a minimum buy out clause, yet was that not also Merino’s request? Who knows.

      Good luck I say, a young quality player, who maybe when he signed, didn’t quite know his own head, or perhaps Newcastle was the perfect platform for a better club with a nice yummy bump in wages, again good luck to him, altho I’m nothing but cynical these days 😜

  • SuperDesHamilton

    He must be class because journalists say so.

  • Nut

    He has pottential ability to go places if he fullfills this there is no question of that, however in this last season he has also shown he couldn’t or wouldn’t fight for a place in the first team during a season where he was kept out of the team by other bodies.

    That isn’t to say that he isn’t good enough but it does raise a huge mental question mark over him for starters.

    Then on top of this the fact he has engineered a move to a mediocre Spanish side rather than show gile and willing to stay here and fight for his place adds an even bigger question mark for me.

    Still Thauvin did the same and look how that worked for him.

    He may still go on and he may become a great player or he may sink.

    Either way I would rather have someone in the team who has better current ability than he has shown and I think we have that in Ki.

    Don’t get me wrong I would have loved it if Merinho had stayed but he made his bed….

  • Soldier

    I`ve only seen him play once at St James Park & you cannot judge a player on one game but i`ll tell you what he looked a class act

    • Wor Lass

      I wonder how much his back injury worried Rafa?

      • Soldier

        he had injury problems in Germany as well so Rafa may know more than he`s telling us

  • Virsino

    #ExcitedAboutThePotentialOfSomeoneWhoDoesNotPlayForUs #GetALife #Ridiculous

  • mentalman

    We are going to lose any young player we sign with a bit of skill and flair like merino when we play the way we do

  • Dillon Tovak

    Something to have in mind is Rafa would probably bend over backwards to assure him he has a big future at the club and plenty of imminent starts if he thought he was about to become Cesc Fabregas.
    He see’s him in training and analyses his fitness on a daily basis.
    Then again, maybe he did but Merino just wanted to go home and absolutely guarantee consistent starts.

  • H

    At the end of the day he would only sign for us if he had a 10 mil clause…

    This tells you all we need to know about all things nufc-merino:
    1.he is young ambitious and wants to play consistantly

    2.he believes hes good enough/better than the alternatives at nufc

    Now the problem and the reason my self and so many others ,wanted him, admired him, but dont really care if he stays is:
    A. He obviously feels he should be the first name on the sheet

    B. He apparently thinks hes better then shelvey and mo

    C. He more than clearly thought of us as a stepping stone (which rafa will no longer tolerate)

    D. He is not willing to fight for a starting place, he just thinks he should.(proof of this is the clause in the contract at both here and bvd)

    E. He has zero loyalty and zero love for the club

    F. Its a bit disrespectful to your competition within the squad that you think your more entitled

    To be honest if i was negotiating when he first joined the minute he asked for that release clause the deal would have gone sour

    Yes hes a talented lad with a massive future, undoubtedly, but team togetherness, a desire to help the club, a passion to fight to be the best and a willingness to let the in form players play for the benefit of the team, id say, is far more important

  • Hughie

    He came here for regular football but ended up as a sub- so no change from Germany . His boyhood club come in for him- what would you do ? He also had a couple of poor games latterly by the way, and looked pedestrian at times. No guarantee that he’ll make it big.

  • 1957

    I suspect his absence from even the bench towards the end of the season may have made his mind up to move, and Sociedad being close to home for him was probably the icing on the cake. Benitez may have wanted to keep him but the release clause made the managers thoughts irrelevant

    ‘Smithfield’ is right about one thing, we are guilty of short termism… SloMo produced 18 months of c##p and after three months of good performances he seems to be almost first name on the team sheet for many.

    Merino started well, faded and may go on to great things and big transfers only time will tell

    • Mike Adam

      For most of the year Merino led the team in tackles and that paired with his ability on the ball made him a better player than SloMo was or will ever be. Why SloMo was an automatic on the team sheet every week I don’t konw(I am sure some expert will tell me), but we have lost what is IMO true young quality that doesn’t come along too often. I would have as the manager, made every attempt to keep him happy. Yes sometimes, no matter what you think of them, you have to keep them happy if you want them on your team.

      • 1957

        Merino has the potential to be way better than SloMo, but at the end of last season the latter kept his place on merit. Let’s hope if Mo’s form dips next season Benitez will replace him with Ki, or whoever, and not keep playing like he did in the Championship, I suppose the precedent is set though given the blind faith shown in the Hoss during our long losing run last year.

  • Big Hairy Man

    Can’t blame the lad to be honest. He’s not getting much game time here mainly because of the form of Shelvey and the big improvement in Diame. Although Real Sociedad is arguably a step down he is from Pamplona and has gone home to his native Basque country where he will be playing every week and be idolised by the fans. Remember Shearer turning down Manure to come home?

    • Ram Kishore

      I wouldn’t say Real soceidad is a step down .. i Spain they are one of the big clubs.. few years ago they even played in the champions league with Griezmann .A solid mid table club where he would be a regular to progress and improve to move to the next level

  • Rich Lawson

    Which team mates is that then,any named quotes ? He was good for a moment,then not good enough to get back in the team after injury.Another move (that he has pushed thru’ with the release clause) at 22 just seems like sulking.He wouldn’t even get on the Madrid/Barca’ bench.

  • Mxpx

    This lad has all the quality in the world this could be an even worse move for us than letting thauvin go although fair enough it was out of our hands although quite why we agreed such a low release clause is questionable

  • Lewis Fu

    He could be playing week in week out and end up signing for Chelsea, Liverpool next. He could also be not playing enough and end up signing for Real Sociedad.
    In any case, the release clause remains the same, he will leave when it suits him. Nobody is happy that he is leaving, but we are all upset by that low release clause which is a massive disappointment considering the market we are in right now.