Mikel Merino has his heart set on a return to Spain – just a year after joining Newcastle United.
A number of clubs are keen on the midfielder, who has a release clause in his deal at St James’s Park.
Merino joined from Borussia Dortmund last summer, initially on loan, after a season on the fringes at the Bundesliga club.
The 22-year-old quickly made an impression last term, though he found his Premier League opportunities limited by the form of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame after returning from a back injury late last year.
And Merino became frustrated at a lack of first-team opportunities in the second half of the campaign and told the Gazette that he would need to “clear his mind” in the summer.
Pamplona-born Merino reportedly wants to join Basque club Real Sociedad.
The Spain Under-21 international – who made 14 league starts for United last season – has also been linked with Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao and Real Betis.
If Merino’s release clause is activated by a bid, Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez will be powerless to stop Merino leaving if he decides that it’s time to move on.
A report has claimed that the release clause is set at £10.5million, though this figure has not been confirmed.
Newcastle paid a total of £9million, including a £2.7million loan fee, for Merino, who is under contract at the club until 2022.
United have made no comment on the latest reports about Merino’s future.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old midfielder Jack Hunter, released by United this summer, has joined Gateshead.