Athletic Club is very familiar with Mikel Merino. The Lions tried to sign the Osasuna midfielder last season but saw their approach rejected as the Pamplona-based side chose to sell him to German giants Borussia Dortmund. Since then he has only made two stars, both in defense, and many thought he could return to La Liga in January. Merino spoke with Radio Euskadi and discussed the links with Athletic, saying he refused to close the door.
“My name has been linked to Athletic because I am from the area. Yes, there were contacts last year. It is always a compliment that other clubs are interested in you. It makes you feel valued. My goal is solely to play football. You never know what can happen in the future so I won’t close the door.”
Merino went on to say that he thought about leaving in the winter but in the end the decision was made for him to stay in Germany.
“I have very good references from Athletic, but I have a long control with Borussia Dortmund until 2021. I’m at one of the best clubs in the world and there is a lot of competition. It’s always going to be hard but I’ve gotten some minutes and I’m happy about that. To continue growing I need to play so I decided to go out in the winter. There was a chance to return to Osasuna and I liked that because I grew up there. I had contacts from Athletic as well. In the end we chose for me to stay and I saw that with optimism.”
Merino, 20, is currently on duty with Spain U21 and is seen as one of the top young Basque players in all of football. Athletic will likely look into his situation again this summer, but prying him away from Borussia Dortmund certainly won’t be easy.