Newcastle United back away from midfielder deal

Andreas Samaris.
Andreas Samaris.
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Rafa Benitez is looking to bring more midfield recruits to Newcastle United – but Andreas Samaris is no longer a target for the club.

Mikel Merino is set to join on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund.

The defensive midfielder arrived on Tyneside on Wednesday to undergo a medical ahead of his proposed move to St James’s Park.

Newcastle have repeatedly been linked with Benfica’s Andreas Samaris.

Asked about the 28-year-old, Benitez said: “We don’t talk about names, because we have been linked with 100 names.

“I’m really pleased that you (the media) didn’t know Merino, because it means we are doing our job properly.”

The Gazette understands that there were tentative discussions with Benfica over Samaris.

However, United baulked over the initial £17.5million asking price – the Portuguese club were also looking to include another unnamed player in a deal – and Benitez instead moved for Merino, who joined Dortmund from Osasuna a year ago.

“Hopefully, it will get done and we will have a player with quality, who can help us in the middle of the park,” said Benitez.

Newcastle, meanwhile, have a longstanding interest in Everton midfielder James McCarthy.

However, it remains to be seen whether United firm up their interest in the 26-year-old, who is rated in the £25million bracket.

That is out of Newcastle’s price range, but the club could yet test Everton with a bid.

Asked about McCarthy earlier this month, Benitez said: “He’s a good player, but we now have a lot of them at this club.

“We have been linked with around 100 players, but he’s not our first target at the moment.”