Quickly finding his way into the hearts of Newcastle fans with a preseason outside of the boot pass even Xavi would be proud of, Mikel Merino appears to be one of the better recruits Rafa Benitez managed to bring in this summer.
The Borussia Dortmund loanee, on loan at St James’ Park until the end of the season, has spoken to Marca about what life is like for him in England since his arrival, as well as what it’s like to have a strong Spanish contingent there to help him.
Explaining that having such a group helps communication on the pitch, something he feels is extremely important, and helps the team be closer, the 21-year-old also described each of the four Spaniards to Marca.
Starting with Jesus Gamez, he said: “He’s a veteran. Jesus has a fundamental role in the club. He helps us a lot. He’s a great support in the dressing room because he’s always looking out for you. It’s a pleasure speaking to him.”
Another new arrival at St James’ Park is Javi Manquillo, who already knows all about the north of England, having spent a season on loan from Atlético Madrid at Sunderland last year.
Describing him as a ‘very nice’ guy, Merino said the young full-back is ‘always interested in what you have to say to him, always ready to learn, and is a player with great potential’.
Onto Ayoze Perez, the Newcastle veteran, there since 2014, despite only being 24: “He understands English football very well. He arrived four years ago, which has allowed him to know the club well, and has quality to spare”.
Finally, we reach Joselu, the new boy at the club, arriving from Stoke for just under £5m.
Merino had this to say about him: “He’s the new kid. We haven’t got to know him that much yet, but he’s a very nice and happy guy. He works really hard on the pitch”.
Kind words from a seemingly very kind young man.