Mikel Merino reflects on a memorable start to his Newcastle career

Newcastle United's Mikel Merino.
Newcastle United's Mikel Merino.

Mikel Merino feels he’s quickly adapted to Premier League football – thanks to his Newcastle United team-mates.

The midfielder, on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund, has impressed in his first five games.

Merino helped Newcastle record a third successive Premier League win on Saturday.

United’s 2-1 success against Stoke City saw the club end the weekend in fourth place.

“Of course, I would have taken this first month,” said Merino. “It would have been perfect if we’d won all the matches, but the way we are playing, the way the team thinks about playing football, the penetration and concentration – all these things are perfect at the moment.

“I’m really, really happy to be here, enjoying every training and every match.”

I’m really, really happy to be here, enjoying every training and every match.

Mikel Merino

Merino – who is keeping Jonjo Shelvey out of Rafa Benitez’s starting XI – is already “comfortable” with the pace, intensity and physicality of the English top flight.

“I look comfortable playing football, not only in Premier League – it’s what I like, it’s what I love,” said the 21-year-old.

“I’ve been doing it since I was seven years old, and, for me, it’s my love. It doesn’t matter if we are playing at a higher intensity, I have to adapt to it.

“The main reason why I feel comfortable is I have really good team-mates who are always supporting me.”

While the club’s fans are buoyant about the team’s prospects, Merino and his team-mates are reluctant to look beyond the next game.

On the mood at the club, Merino added: “Football is like this – sometimes you lose, sometimes you are high.

“We don’t have to feel confident just because of that, because at any moment this can change and we can lose.

“We have to be sure that we do our job, be sure that we have the crowd and be strong in our home here.

“We are lucky now, because we are winning now, and I hope this is going to be a good thing for us. We’ll be more confident, and we can carry on and keep working.”

Merino is enjoying playing at St James’s Park.

“It’s so enjoyable for us to play matches here, and, of course, it’s even better to do it winning,” said the Spain Under-21 international.

“We have to keep going. This doesn’t stop. We have to keep playing like this effort, this rhythm, and just doing our work – and keep winning if we can.”

Benitez sent on Shelvey for the last 21 minutes against Stoke, and Merino feels they could start a game together.

“Of course me and Jonjo can play together,” said Merino. “All of the midfielders can play together. We have a connection. It doesn’t matter who plays, because whoever it is will do really well.

“That is one of the things that is really important in football – if you trust in your team-mates, then it doesn’t matter who plays, because you can make it really clear whose job is which and adapt to it.”