I really liked Mikel Merino.

I thought that on the little we saw of him he looked like he could potentially be a real star of the future.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be at Newcastle United.

In the first nine Premier League matches he featured in for Newcastle last season, NUFC won four, got two draws and just three defeats.

Unfortunately, he picked up a back injury and when returning at the end of November 2017 for the 2-2 draw at West Brom, he didn’t look 100%. Starting another five games in December, Mikel Merino was named only twice in the Premier League team for Newcastle once we got into 2018.

A regular on the bench in 2018, clearly something had happened between the player and Rafa Benitez as the manager rarely used Merino as a sub in the second half of that 2017/18 PL season.

Mikel Merino moved on last summer, Real Sociedad triggering a £10m release clause he had in his contract.

Making four La Liga starts by the end of September, the midfielder was doing ok in La Liga, only to pick up a thigh injury that would plague him throughout the rest of 2018, making only one more La Liga start before we got to 2019.

On Monday he was deemed fit enough to finally start a league match again, thrown into a very tough game away to Real Madrid.

What prompted me to write this was a lame hatchet job I saw in the local (north east) media over Christmas, glorying in the ‘fact’ that Merino’s move back to Spain had supposedly proved such a disaster. No real consideration given to the fact that it was injury and fitness issues that had ruled him out of starting most of the season so far.

Up against Modric, Kroos, Casemiro and the rest on Monday, Mikel Merino was superb.

Playing the first 73 minutes before lack of games caught up with him, he left the pitch with Real Sociedad 1-0 up, a late goal seeing a final score of Real Madrid 0 Real Sociedad 2.

I came across the whoscored review of the game, their rating system uses over 200 raw statistics to calculate the player ratings and are weighted according to influence in the game – taking into account the area of the pitch and its outcome for each important event. The ratings are used by numerous sections of the football industry; including media, bookmakers and clubs themselves.

They made Mikel Merino the top outfield player on the pitch, with only the Real Sociedad keeper rated higher:

mikel merino

I’m not saying this means he will definitely be a star of the future but watching the shocking lack of quality in Newcastle’s midfield and forward areas this season, I certainly wish Mikel Merino was still at St James Park.

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  • Wor Lass

    I thought he looked promising and he obviously had a good game here but his stats aren`t too great. He`s played 11 out of 18 La Liga games this season, 5 as sub, scored 1 goal and got 0 assists. Perez has played twice as many games, got twice as many goals and an assist. Go figure!

    • Kneebotherm8

      Merino doesn’t play in the same position as Ayoze Perez….ie up front
      No comparisons there I’m afraid…or as Clarko would,and did many times, have put it….he is not a CAM…..no10 I would call it but there you go….

      • Kneebotherm8

        Ah knew it……CKO has kicked in with a comment on Merino not being a number 10……😂😂

    • JohnnyH

      Stats put him in with the likes Perez can’t argue, but I thought from the start he would never make the transition to the PL game pace when he came here.
      Never fitted in with a team tasked with perpetual survival struggle, so opportunities were not there for him.
      Reckon he’ll develop
      Getting any snow in the Alps yet?

      • Kneebotherm8

        No comparison with Perez………he looked a cracking player here at times and I think he’ll come back to haunt us as one that got away…….a bit like Thauvin who has been reported as being on Chelsea’s radar at 3-4 times the price we sold him for……

        • JohnnyH

          He’d be a shoe in at Chelsea etc…

        • Geordiegiants

          Your last part puts in into perspective. 3/4 times the price. If that is the case he would certainly of been sold on anyway and made the fatcunt more money. SO WHO GIVES A FUUCK?

      • Wor Lass

        It`s mid 30`s and crawling with Manure fans where I am just now.

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      He’s had an injury and has been gradually fed back into the team… stats don’t tell you everything.. this is why shocking journalists like those at the chronicle write dodgy articles.. they look up stats and that’s where their “journalism” ends.

      • Wor Lass

        I`m not bigging Perez up and I`m not doing Merino down. All I`m saying is one swallow doesn`t make a summer.

    • Tommy

      Perez plays in attack, Merino does not.

  • Kneebotherm8

    I think he won the penalty to put Sociedad 1-0 up………

  • X,WHY,Y MAN.

    Always looked like a good player but another who was never going to improve at
    Newcastle give the circumstances, With the way the club is run under Ashley.
    A player like Merino at a normal club would be given time to adapt and settle in but with Ashley running the pitch like a car show room, Players like him are thrown in at the deep end.

  • Stephen Paylor

    Could tell every time he touched the ball he had quality and in time was going to be a star, i could even see him playing as a number 10. How badly NUFC could have used him now….

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      Rafa’s system is god …

      • Geordiegiants

        Attacking all out football would work brilliantly with our forwards. He should play open expansive football it would work wonders with the quality we have up front.

        • Anita kick up the Hoop

          Who has EVER asked for “All out Attacking football” … EVER???? not one single fan I’ve EVER met!

          • Geordiegiants

            You are!

          • Anita kick up the Hoop

            Really? … so you have reached the stage in your delusion that you now think that anytime who wants to see the team play on the front foot a bit more IN CERTAIN GAMES is demanding “ALL OUT ATTACK”…. Rafa adulation has warped the minds of so many.

          • Geordiegiants

            So who is our play maker / makers to play the attacking football you want? Who is the goal scorer in the attacking team?

          • Anita kick up the Hoop

            He had Merino and wasted him, he’s bought wingers that flop and had the chance to sign the likes of Maddison…

          • Geordiegiants

            That doesn’t answer the question, Merino was a holding midfielder anyway. He never signed Maddison and I VERY much doubt he would of been able to sign him.

    • Clarko

      ‘I could even see him playing as a number 10’

      You don’t know football.

    • Kneebotherm8

      You’ve set CKO Cuckoo Clarko off

  • Anita kick up the Hoop

    Wasted under Benitez playing RafaBall.. written off by Lee Ryder at the chronicle who seems to need an agenda against a player every year (usually one who isn’t available to interview at his beck and call) .. it’s been Robert, Ben Arfa,Merino & Mitrovic… this season it’s Kenedy.. non would answer their phones to Ryder .. unlike Rob Elliot.

  • Leicester Mag

    There’s a slightly worrying way in which we singularly fail to take players like Merino / Mbabu/ Thauvin and develop them. Not sure that Ashley is solely at fault on this one.

    • Geordiegiants

      All clubs let players go without knowing. Chelsea De-Bruyne and Salah are 2 huge ones of recent times I can think off the top of my head.

      • mentalman

        You are right about chelsea bit look at who the chelsea manager picked over the two you have mentioned and then look at our midfielders

      • Tommy

        Fair comment but Chelsea can go out and pay £50m to £80m for a ready made player,

    • TeessideMag

      Id add mitro to this list as well

      • Geordiegiants

        🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣🤣🤣

        • Kenny

          😂😂😂😂

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      Exactly… we are the most gullible set of fans in football… anyone who doesn’t fit with ugly footballing tactics or thrive under hoofball conditions is at fault … even when scouted and bought as technically gifted players in passing teams

      • Angelswithdirtyfaces

        Gullible ? That’s for sure when it comes to believing Ashley’s lies.

  • Tommy

    Tell me about it, we have £20m in two players on the bench and the likes of Joselu on the pitch go figure that one.

    • Billmag

      He’s played 4 times for his club this season the boy is injury prone and wouldn’t be much good for us that’s fighting relegation every season.

  • Steve Smith

    It’s taken him about a year to get back to fitness, even this week not playing the full game and being substituted in place of the eventual goalscorer.

    He was definitely one of our better players, but realistically he looked (looks) like he might be another Michael Owen.

    • Kneebotherm8

      Michael Owen?………..I wouldn’t compare anyone with that little mercenary twt……..you may as well compare Paul Dummett with Owen if it’s only about being fit and available for the team………Owen made himself unavailable for the team even when fit to play……..

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      Quality?

  • He wanted to leave, and can you blame him? No ambition here. Sociedad take on every team, we can’t. I believe Rafa will take their side ove ours any day of the week

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      And Rafa will destroy their footballing philosophy

  • DidierDomi

    Merino is a silky centre-mid who doesn’t shirk defensive work. It was clear in his short time here that he was the most talented of our midfielders and would soon have adjusted to the league and established himself as such. Once he’d recovered from his back injury and we were safe from relegation, he was obviously a better investment in playing time than a 30-year-old Diame and must’ve taken umbrage at being overlooked for such a limited player. Can’t blame him for leaving; I’m sure he’ll go on to do great things, unlike Diame. Shocking that Momo was once a number 10 who scored a few amazing individual goals at other clubs.

  • Toon

    Injured, injured, injured – this could be his potential. He didn’t want to be at NUFC or himself and agent would have asked for a low release clause in his contract, decent player but anonymous for most part of last season and it seems this season, no massive loss

    • DidierDomi

      Funny how nobody speaks about Dummett’s or Lejeune’s or Lascelles’s frequent injuries. Football’s a physical game; injuries happen. Some players are worth sticking with because of what they offer when they’re on the pitch, especially when they’ve only been here five minutes. And he was smart to put a release clause in his contract and go somewhere he was wanted rather than sit on the bench and waste his career watching inferior robots do nothing. No massive loss this season? Have you not seen our midfield? Our lack of ball retention? Our inability to create chances? Do you think this is a Liverpool or Man City message board?

      • Kneebotherm8

        A major loss in my opinion…….one or two just can’t live with the fact he walked away from the club……

        • Anita kick up the Hoop

          If he was playing in a footballing side he’d have settled no problem .. it was the robotic RafaBall that sickened him not the club .., watch him over the next few years .. he’ll excel in everything he does

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      Playing RafaBall

  • Wezza

    Sold for a big profit, that’s it.
    Shame though! We really could use him now!

    • Themoscow72

      Broke even but Rafa did not like him.

  • Themoscow72

    Was a really good players with bags of talent but for some strange reason fell out of favour with Rafa. The time he was left out of the squad all together and I met him in a lift he was a dejected man who could not understand why he had been cast aside.

    • Anita kick up the Hoop

      Rafa is all about RafaBall.. play like a RafaBot or you find yourself out of the picture and the chronicle writing agenda driven article about how you e got a bad attitude or you train poorly or you don’t eat all your carrots…

  • SAMTHECAT

    Thauvin.

  • Realist99

    A great signing badly managed by Rafa.
    Overplayed him and burned him to a crisp and gave him no chance to adapt to the Prem. inevitable he got injured and dissolutioned.
    No wonder we struggle to sign players.