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Mikel Merino reacts to speculation about his Newcastle future

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino

Mikel Merino says he’ll go away and “clear his mind” in the summer.

The midfielder has found his opportunities limited by the form of Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey.

I’m happy. I’m just focusing on playing football and enjoying myself. We have these two matches, and then I’ll clear my mind and relax with my family and loved ones and enjoy my holidays.

Mikel Merino

Merino – who impressed in the early part of the season after joining from Borussia Dortmund – came off the bench in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Watford.

And the 21-year-old hopes to get more minutes in the club’s final two games against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

“Yes, players always want to play, and even more when you thing you are doing the correct things,” said Merino.

“The coach decides who has to play, and I’m here just to try to use my skills and motivation for the team.

“I’m happy now for the few minutes I’ve played, and I hope to have some more.

“Rafa gave a chance to (Javier) Manquillo and (Jacob) Murphy. They earned it.

“What we have to do is wait for the coach to make the decision.

“Hopefully, I can play.”

Pamplona-born Merino – who signed a five-year deal at United in October – has been linked with Basque clubs Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad in recent months.

Asked about the speculation, and it he was happy at Newcastle, Merino said: “I’m happy.

“I’m just focusing on playing football and enjoying myself.

“We have these two matches, and then I’ll clear my mind and relax with my family and loved ones and enjoy my holidays.”

Meanwhile, Watford led 2-0 at the half-time break thanks to goals from Roberto Pereyra and Andre Gray.

Rafa Benitez’s side were indebted to goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who kept them in the game at Vicarage Road with a series of saves.

A reorganised United were better after the break, and a goal from Ayoze Perez gave them hope of a result.

Newcastle pressed and pressed late on, but couldn’t get an equaliser.

“They started the match brightly, with a lot of intensity, and did the things that they had to do,” said Merino, a Spain Under-21 international.

“We had a lack of focus or maybe the things were not as we wanted from the beginning.

“But football is like this, when you’re winning, you start to drop off a little bit and let the other team have the ball.

“We had some big chances, and it’s a shame we didn’t take them.”

Newcastle, still sitting 10th in the Premier League, have suffered three successive defeats since securing their top-flight status with a memorable 2-1 win over Arsenal last month.

“We always want to win, and not only win, but have a good sense of our own work,” said Merino.

“We know this is not what we wanted. It seems like we are relaxed, this is not the case.

“We are going to approach the two matches with 100% to finish the season with a good feeling.”

Newcastle take on Totten ham at Wembley on Wednesday night.

“Maybe playing against a big team gives us even more motivation to approach the game with intensity,” said Merino.

“But we have to approach every game with our 100%. It doesn’t matter who we play.”