In Focus: Newcastle won’t allow Barca and Real target Merino to go for just £17.7m

According to reports on Spanish website El Gol Digital, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao are all interested in signing Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino next summer and believe that he could be purchased for around €20m (approximately £17.7m).

What’s the word, then?

Well, even though the Magpies only completed a permanent deal for the 21-year-old – who signed a five-year contract – last month after he initially joined them on loan from Borussia Dortmund during the summer transfer window, he is already being linked with a move to his homeland.

El Gol Digital says the Tyneside outfit are already aware of interest from a number of La Liga clubs and they point to Newcastle’s reported interest in Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron as a sign that the Premier League club are already preparing for the Spanish starlet’s exit.

Merino has made a huge impact already for Rafa Benitez’s men this season – but he could be out until 2018 with a back injury after he missed their last two top flight matches and withdrew from the Spain U21 squad this week.

How good has he been this season?

He has been excellent, and the fact that Newcastle decided to make his loan move permanent so soon after he initially joined them proves that.

As well as forming a strong partnership with the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden in the middle of the park, he has shown his defensive contribution with 14 clearances and 14 interceptions in nine Premier League appearances, according to Squawka.

However, he has also shown he can be effective going forward too and as well as scoring the winning goal in the 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace at St James’ Park last month, he has also shown his qualities on the ball by successfully completing 13 of the 17 take-ons he has attempted.

Would Newcastle really sell him next summer?

While the Magpies certainly wouldn’t want to sell the player considering he has only recently joined them on a long-term deal, but of course they could be tempted if they receive a huge offer for the 21-year-old.

However, it would have to be far higher than the £17.7m that El Gol Digital are suggesting in their report.