The summer transfer window hasn’t officially opened yet, but clubs across Europe are still working hard to sign new players and strengthen their squads for the upcoming year. Last summer Athletic Club did not sign a single player but instead chose to promote three Lezama stars, two of which began starters. This time around, the Lions need to add depth and have had their sights set on two key targets – Osasuna’s Alex Berenguer and Borussia Dortmund’s Mikel Merino.
Athletic’s ultimate goal would be to sign both players this summer. The Lions have been in contacts with BVB over Merino, but those negotiations seem to be moving at a slower pace. Meanwhile, they have already submitted a bid of €4 million for Berenguer, but Osasuna continues to reject that number and wants Athletic to pay the €9 million release clause. Despite being in talks over both players, the Lions are now facing competition from other clubs who want to sign Berenguer and Merino.
According to a report from El Desmarque Bizkaia, Italian side Napoli is very interested in signing Alex Berenguer and are believed to be willing to offer €6 million for the winger. While that number is still not meeting the release clause, it is higher than Athletic’s latest offer which could cause a problem. Last summer Osasuna chose to sell Mikel Merino to BVB for less than Athletic was offering because they simple don’t like doing business with their local rivals. If another club like Napoli is willing to offer more, Osasuna may be willing to accept it, especially with their disastrous financial situation. In a recent interview the player’s agent discussed the interest saying, “Napoli is interested but it is still very early. Right now there is nothing”.
Also according to El Desmarque Bizkaia, fellow La Liga side Valencia is heavily interested in Mikel Merino and wants to sign the 20-year-old on loan with an option to purchase him at the end of the season. Merino barely played for BVB last year and wants to leave the club in favor of a return to Spain. Other German clubs such as Stuttgart and FC Koln have also shown interest in the midfield but he seems set on a move back to his home country. Like Napoli, Valencia has yet to submit an official bid and there is no telling if BVB would even accept this offer. Still, this interest does present another wrinkle that Athletic Club will have to overcome if they want to bring Mikel Merino the San Mames the summer.