Spanish side Athletic Club Bilbao are reportedly insisting on the attempt to sign Mikel Merino from Newcastle United.

After negotiations in the January window, the Basque club are back in talks for the 21-year-old this summer, according to local outlet Deia today.

The midfielder is said not to be in Rafa Benitez’ plans for the next season, which would be a surprise, although it doesn’t mean Newcastle will be letting him go easily.

Deia claims that Mike Ashley is currently demanding £10m for the player, and is expected to be tough in negotiations, especially knowing how restricted Athletic’s market options can be.

That figure sounds too low and would be the opposite of tough.

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It’s said that other clubs such as Real Betis and Real Sociedad are also interested in Merino. But in case he gets to choose, then it’s really Athletic who would be his priority, say the Basque source.

Merino had been a regular starter for Newcastle early in the season, but injury saw him slide out for the picture.