Newcastle United briefing: Mikel Merino commits to club, billionaire 'intrigued' by Premier League
Mikel Merino has committed his long-term future to Newcastle United ahead of the club's visit to the St Mary's Stadium.
The club today revealed that the midfielder's season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund had been converted into a permanent move.
Merino said: "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."
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez will speak to the media later today ahead of Sunday's game against Southampton.
We also have an interview with Merino's midfield colleague Isaac Hayden.
Meanwhile, an American billionaire has spoken about his interest in buying a Premier League club.
Here's your daily briefing:
Deal me in
Merino had quickly impressed after joining Newcastle.
And the club moved to tie the 21-year-old down to a five-year deal after a series of commanding performances.
Benitez welcomed the news on his own personal website.
"We today have the pleasure of officially announcing the excellent news that Mikel Merino has become a Newcastle United player on a permanent basis," said Benitez.
"After initially joining the club on loan, he has now made his move into a permanent one. I must say that since becoming a member of our squad, he has worked fantastically well, has produced some very good performances and has settled in straight away to the squad, the club and the city itself.
"In addition to his quality on the ball, he's a player who goes about his work with great enthusiasm, which will be a key factor when it comes to his short, medium and long-term future."
Benitez will address the media at 1.30pm ahead of the Southampton game.
United are ninth in the Premier League table after taking nine points from their first seven games.
And Benitez will be asked about his relationship with Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino, who played for him at Valencia and Liverpool before joining his coaching staff at Anfield. Pellegrino followed Benitez to Inter Milan.
In an interview with Premier League World, Benitez revealed that he intends to manage well into his 70s.
Hayden says he can't help being hard on himself – as he sets high standards for himself.
The 22-year-old was critical of his own performance in last month's win over Swansea City.
And Hayden has revealed why he's so tough on himself in an interview with the Gazette.
“I’m realistic about these things, and I don’t think I was harsh on myself," said the England Under-21 international.
“I set myself high standards and I understand my game. I understand what I need to improve on.
“I just believe I’m an honest person, and if I have a good game I feel I can say I’ve had a good game If I’ve had a bad game, I feel I can say I’ve had a bad game. I’m not afraid to admit things or take things on the chin."
Should Ayoze Perez be dropped? Some fans think so.
We take a look at what Perez has brought to Benitez's team so far this season.
Robert Craft is still "intrigued" by the idea of buying a Premier League club.
So is he considering a move for for-sale Newcastle?
Kraft – whose family own NFL team the New England Patriots and Major League Soccer club New England Revolution – was linked with a move for Liverpool in 2005.
And the 76-year-old has spoken to BBC Sport about his interest in Premier League football.
"We helped found MLS in America," said Kraft. "Our league here is starting to really develop, and with our soccer team we've gone to the championship game five times in 21 years.
"I'm just concerned in the Premier League that we might not, with all the different ways of operating, we're not as familiar with all of them.
"Let's say people from all over the world come in and buy teams and maybe they have different reasons for doing it and managing it.
"And you have to compete with that and I'm not sure. But I'm still intrigued."