Athletic Club’s pursuit of Mikel Merino has really ramped up over the last few days. The midfielder is currently still enjoying his summer vacation due to playing with Spain’s U21 side, but the Lions hope to secure his signing before he rejoins his Borussia Dortmund teammates. A recent report claimed that the two clubs were close to reaching an agreement for a fee around €10 million and that it could take place as early as this week. Now there is even more information further linking the 21-year-old with a switch to the San Mames.
According to a new report from Noticias de Gipuzkoa, a local paper in San Sebastian, Real Sociedad President Jokin Aperribay recent flew to Germany to meet with Borussia Dortmund. He is said to have requested to sign Merino on loan for the upcoming season, but was told by the Germans that they have decided to sell the player and are in negotiations with Athletic Club.
The fact that Aperribay came back empty handed and that there are no rumors linking Merino with a move to San Sebastian are quite telling. Borussia Dortmund was believed to be holding out for a loan or at least a buy back option on Merino, which is why Aperribay likely thought he could convince the Germans to agree to the transfer. Meanwhile, Athletic has been very firm that they only want to sign Merino if they can do so as an outright transfer. The BVB officials said that after analyzing their squad they have now opened their minds to the idea of selling Merino and they know that Athletic will offer the largest bid.
According to reports in Bilbao, the magic number seems to be €10 million. If the Lions submit a bid somewhere around that number then BVB is expected to agree to the transfer. Merino has already agreed to personal terms with the Lions and is said to have requested a move to the San Mames, refusing to listen to any other offers. Merino’s willingness to push the transfer likely has a lot to do with BVB changing their minds about a full sale. The 21-year-old’s father played with Cuco Ziganda at Osasuna and the two have a great relationship. Merino already knows that he would play regular minutes at the San Mames and would even have the opportunity to challenge for a starting role. Nothing is official at this point, but every day that passes brings Athletic one step closer to finally signing Mikel Merino.