Ex-Newcastle United duo shine on the international stage
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The pair of former Magpies being included in Luis de la Fuente’s squad to take on Norway and Scotland surprised some in the North East who wouldn’t have assumed that the two would both be called up to the Spanish national team.
Mikel Merino showed glimpses of magic when he arrived from Borussia Dortmund, but ultimately found game time hard to come by under Rafa Benitez due to competition in midfield from the more established, at the time, Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey.
Merino has now established himself as one of the best players in La Liga. With seven assists already this season, Merino has shown his quality consistently since leaving Tyneside for Real Sociedad.
The Stuttgart-born Joselu played in the Bundesliga for Hannover 96 prior to the switch to Stoke City and then eventually Newcastle United, when they were promoted back to Premier League under Benitez.
The target man was not very prolific for Newcastle United or Stoke but arrived when Mike Ashley still held a vice-like grip on the club’s finances.
Ultimately Benitez was forced to go for his second, third or even fourth choice targets despite the fact the squad needed vast improvement after they regained their Premier League status.
As Newcastle announced his departure from the club in the summer of 2019, he was very well regarded as a person and for his effort despite his limited goalscoring prowess and plenty of Geordies wished him well on his return to Spain with Alaves.
Now playing for Espanyol in Barcelona, Joselu has scored 13 goals and four assists in 27 appearances in all competitions this season, more than earning his call up to the national team.
Joselu made his international debut at 32-years-old against Norway on Saturday in their UEFA Euro Qualifier against Norway, scoring a late brace after Dani Olmo opened the scoring to secure a 3-0 win for Spain.
Joselu and Merino’s Spain took on Scotland yesterday and despite both starting, Scotland were the better team on the night. Newcastle target Scott McTominay scored twice as the Scots won 2-0.