Newcastle make Mikel Merino loan deal permanent

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Mikel Merino has completed a permanent move to Newcastle from Borussia Dortmund after an impressive start to his career in England, the Magpies have announced.

The 21-year-old midfielder arrived at St James’ Park on loan in July with the possibility of a full transfer included in the deal, and has done so well on Tyneside that the club has handed him a five-year contract.

Manager Rafael Benitez told NUFC TV: “I’m really pleased we have been able to bring Mikel to the club permanently. He has played very well since he joined us.

“He has settled in quickly, has a lot of quality on the ball and is keen to learn – that is a crucial part of his future development.”

Benitez added: “He has made a great impression at the club, and he is a good professional. He has confidence, but he is still young and has things to improve. He has to keep working hard and playing well, and hopefully he can improve and enjoy playing here.”

Merino was handed his competitive debut for the club as a substitute in their opening Premier League defeat by Tottenham in which Jonjo Shelvey was sent off, and has started every league game since.

Such has been his form that he won the club’s FUN88 player of the month award for August.

During his time with Newcastle to date, he has played three times for Spain Under-21s and scored twice, including the opener in Tuesday night’s 4-1 European Championships qualifier victory in Slovakia.

Merino said: “I’m really happy to be here, and for this part of the contract to finally be official. I’m happy to be here for five more years and I hope to keep playing for this club and to give good things to all the people and the club.

“I have been focused on football always, but it’s good to know it’s now official and people will know it. I’m focused on my displays and improving myself, and I’m really happy to have signed this contract.”

Merino will get his latest chance to impress on Sunday when Newcastle travel to Southampton, where they have won only once in the league since 1972.

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