Athletic Club And Real Betis Are Locked In A Battle For Mikel Merino

Mikel Merino

Athletic will have to beat out Real Betis if they want to sign Mikel Merino (NUFC)

For the fourth straight transfer window Athletic Club are hoping to bring Mikel Merino to the San Mamés. After seeing the Osasuna product join Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle, the Lions don’t want to face another soap opera and would like to seal his purchase as quickly as possible. In January the 21-year-old agreed to personal terms with Athletic, but has now received interest from another club and the battle for the starlet is heating up.

Real Betis are the other club vying for the Newcastle man and they have an exciting project to offer him. Unlike Athletic, Betis are able to give Merino the chance to play in the Europa League and he could, potentially, have more minutes there as well. The Seville-based outfit are expecting to lose star midfielder, Fabian, this summer and view Merino as someone who can step into his place in the starting lineup. If that is the case one could assume that Merino would be on the field weekly.

Meanwhile, at Athletic, it likely isn’t a foregone conclusion that Merino would be handed massive minutes were he to make the move to the San Mamés. The 21-year-old would have to battle Dani García, Beñat, Mikel San José, and Ander Iturraspe for a place in the lineup. However, Athletic could offer to offer him a bigger contract and their pursuit of him over the past two years should be indicative of their plans to make him a prominent part of the team.

Looking at things from Merino’s point of view, both options are appealing. On the one hand there is Betis who are a growing project that will play in Europe, and on the other is Athletic who have clearly wanted you for two years, are close to home, and have an exciting new manager. In the end, the decision will ultimately come down to what Mikel Merino wants to do. After spending the previous two seasons on the bench, he wants to play and feel important again. He will have to choose where to go this summer and it will be up to Athletic to convince him that coming to the San Mamés is the best decision that he can make.

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