Mikel Merino set to decide his Newcastle future – a year after joining the club

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino

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.