Mikel Merino remains Athletic Club’s biggest summer transfer target. The Lions have been after the 20-year-old for over a year now and are closer than ever to sealing his signature. Last summer, Osasuna chose to sell the midfielder to Borussia Dortmund instead of Athletic which looked like it would be the end of the pursuit. However, after a significant lack of playing time in Germany, the Basque is ready for a move back home and is said to be favoring a move to the San Mames.
Last week, it was a reported that Real Sociedad were ready to rival Athletic for Merino’s signature. La Real is also in need of strengthening their midfield and were going to join the race for the U21 star. However, that is already a thing of the past. According to a new report from Diario Vasco, Real Sociedad have pulled out of the race with the understanding that they will not be able to compete with their rivals.
The report states that Real Sociedad are genuinely interested in Mikel Merino, but they realize that signing him would take “an aligning of the stars” to actually happen. Athletic is already in advance talks with Borussia Dortmund regarding the midfielder who favors the move to Bilbao over any other potential offer. Additionally, La Real does not want to enter into a bidding war with Athletic Club who are planning to go all out to sign their prized target.
Athletic’s pursuit of Mikel Merino will depend on several factors. BVB manager Thomas Tuchel was recently relieved of his duties and now Merino will wait for the next coach to be named to find out if he will be part of the plans moving forward. If the 20-year-old is not guaranteed a regular role in the squad, he will once again ask for a transfer away from the club. Rumors suggest that Athletic and BVB may have already agreed to a transfer and are only waiting for the next manager to have his say on the issue before anything is finalized.
In a recent interview Merino stated that he has no timetable for making a decision about his future, but his frustration is clear. He revealed that he feels let down by the club for leaving him out of the Champions League squad and failing to deliver on their promise of more playing time. Those close to the situation say that the midfielder has his heart set on a return to Spain with the understanding that Athletic will give him every opportunity to continue his development and fight for a starting role. Real Betis and Valencia are still said to be interested in the midfielder as well.