Newcastle midfielder Mikel Merino has admitted that he would like to move back to Spain at some point in his career, hinting that a move could come sooner rather than later.
The 21-year-old joined the Premier League side on loan from Borussia Dortmund in July last year, before the move was made permanent in October. But Merino has been consistently linked with Athletic Club, as the young midfielder fits the Basque side's strict signing policy.
Merino has continued his development at Newcastle, having made 22 league appearances for the English side this season, and the Magpies have denied claims that they are willing to negotiate offers for the midfielder.
However, Merino has spoken of his desire to return to his home country to play his trade.
When speaking to Spanish newspaper AS, as quoted by Sport Witness, Merino said: "I am very happy to be in the Premier League and have experience in the Bundesliga, but someday I would like to return to the Spanish League.”
And when questioned on how the continuous links to Athletic may effect him, the Newcastle youngster said that it just gives him confidence that he is doing well.
"The fact that both Athletic and other teams are looking is a sign that you are doing things right. I am very grateful for the interest they put in each market because it means that I’m doing things right,” said Merino.
The 21-year-old was asked whether he could see himself playing in Bilbao, and the response was typically cryptic for a footballer addressing transfer speculation, answering: "You can never guess where you're going to play."
Merino signed a five year deal with Newcastle in October 2017, so he still has a lot of years left on his contract with the North East side.