With Dani Garcia Signed, Athletic Club Make Mikel Merino Their Top Priority
Athletic Club are already busy preparing for next season. So far the Lions have sealed transfers for Ander Capa and Cristian Ganea, while also reaching a contract agreement with Dani Garcia who will see his current deal with Eibar expire at the end of the current campaign. Add in the fact that the Basque giants are close to finalizing an agreement with Eduardo Berizzo to become the new manager and fans have a lot to be excited about. However, there is still one elusive signing that Athletic are pursuing.
Mikel Merino is something of an enigma for Athletic fans. Two summers ago the Lions were leading the race to sign the midfield starlet before Borussia Dortmund swooped in. One year later Merino was barely featuring for the German side and was once again put on the market. Athletic pushed for his signing but he was eventually sent to Newcastle on a loan deal that quickly turned into a permanent transfer. In January Athletic came calling again and the two clubs actually agreed to a €10 million transfer before manager Rafa Benitez vetoed the deal due to the fact that he couldn’t sign a replacement for the midfielder.
This summer Athletic and Newcastle will meet again to negotiate the sale of Mikel Merino. The English side knows that this is the perfect time to cash in on the starlet while also being able to bring in new talent, unlike the situation in January. Meanwhile Merino is well aware of Athletic’s interest and even agreed to personal terms back in January. He knows the Lions would give him the chance to compete for a starting role which is something that he hasn’t had at Newcastle. The 21-year-old has only played a total of 90 minutes in the last eight games and did not even set foot on the pitch in five of those.
Athletic President Josu Urrutia has had a plan in place for a few months now of things that he wanted to accomplish before the next season kicks off. The first two objectives were to sign Dani Garcia and Eduardo Berizzo. Check. The last goal is to bring Mikel Merino to the San Mamés. With negotiations set to take place in June and Merino’s desire to return to La Liga there is reason to believe that the transfer will finally happen. Then again the Lions have come up short a few times now in their pursuit of the midfielder so fans will understandably not count on the signing until it becomes official.