Mikel Merino watch: How did the Newcastle midfielder fare against Stoke?

Mikel Merino
Mikel Merino

The Premier League has been graced with top-quality Spanish midfield players such as Xabi Alonso and Cesc Fabregas.

And is Newcastle United's Mikel Merino going to be another hit?

The Spain Under-21 international has been very impressive since making switch to Tyneside over the summer, and was fundamental in United’s 2-1 victory over Stoke City yesterday.

From the first whistle to the last, Merino always looked comfortable and intelligent on the ball and without it worked hard to win it back.

READ MORE: Rafa Benitez's surprise reaction after Newcastle move up to fourth in the Premier League table

The 21-year-old put in another quality performance and was the most involved Newcastle player on the pitch, completing more passes – 32 out of 42 – than any other of his team-mates.

Merino’s game isn’t all just about being on the ball. The midfielder also has the willingness to dig in deep and put a foot in when needed. He won the ball back nine times – more times than any other player on the field – and won more tackles than other Newcastle player on the pitch.

The Spaniard was voted the Magpies FUN88 player of the month for August and has kept creative midfielder Jonjo Shelvey out of the starting XI since the midfielder's return from suspension.

Whenever he got the ball, Merino had the ability to easily find pockets of space and with it, produce that bit of flair and quality to progress Newcastle up the pitch.

Merino has been a catalyst for Newcastle so far this season and his reward, a cemented starting XI place in Rafa Benitez’s side. For a player who will cost a total figure of £9.2m, Merino looks to be an incredible steal for the Magpies, especially given the inflation of the current transfer market.

Newcastle supporters have been known to not demand a team that wins, but to demand a team that tries and Mikel Merino certainly is a player that will give it his all.

Speaking in the match programme, Merino said: “You fight to win the ball, defend, run. If I finish a match and I’m not exhausted, I haven’t given 100%.”