Mikel Merino says he’s ready for the Premier League’s midfield “beasts”.
Merino joined Newcastle United late last month from Borussia Dortmund.
And the 21-year-old will make his St James’s Park debut tomorrow against Hellas Verona in the club’s final pre-season friendly.
Merino and his team-mates will then have a final week to prepare for the August 13 season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Spain Under-21 international, looking to bring brains AND brawn to Rafa Benitez’s midfield, feels he can quickly adjust to the physicality and intensity of English football’s top flight.
“I know that the Premier League is really physical,” said Merino.
“The players are so strong. They are beasts. I know it. I am prepared for it.
“I think that I can fight with all these guys who are really strong.
“Also, I have to put my technical skils, my tactical skills (to use).
“This is what’s going to improve the level, not only physically but mentally. You play football with your brain, not only your muscles.
“You have to use all of your armoury to win.”
Merino only played a handful of games for Dortmund following his move from Osasuna last summer.
“Last season was hard for me,” said Merino. “When the season finished, I was told about the possibility to come to Newcastle with Rafa.
“It’s a really good club. I was told I would have opportunities to play and to develop my skills.
“This is the right place for me to be. I’m happy to be finally be here.”
Merino feels he is a more “complete” player for his year in Germany.
“I didn’t play a lot of matches, but I learned from the best players in the world,” he said.
“Now I’m more complete player. You have to focus on 100% of your possibilities to play at a high level.
“You have to make decisions fast over there. I learned a lot even from training.
“The only thing I regret is not playing a lot. I would’ve improved even more then, but I’m happy and I’m a better player than two years ago. Here, I will improve more.”
Like Dortmund, Newcastle is a club known for its fanatical following.
Merino said: “I’ve heard the fans here are really good.
“I have the good experience of being with Dortmund and Osasuna, 80,000 fans inside the stadium at Dortmund. There are always that many there.
“I hope this crowd is also at this level.
“It is really good to have them with the team.
“It was fantastic to play there, playing in front of that wall (at the Westfalenstadion).
“It really impressive because everyone is yellow, everyone singing, you go there at the end to clap them and they start to sing and jump.
“It’s impressive on TV, but incredible when you are down on the pitch and you see it.”