Newcastle United look like they are willing to let some of their fringe players go in order to free up squad space for incoming signings, and it appears that Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino is one of those who will soon be shown the door at St. James' Park.
According to Sky Sports, the 22-year-old is close to sealing a deal to move back to his native Spain to join Real Sociedad in a move thought to be worth up to £10m.
Mikel Merino is on the verge of return to Spain with Real Sociedad. We understand the La Liga side have activated the midfielder’s £10m release clause and he’ll have a medical by the weekend.— Keith Downie (@SkySports_Keith) July 5, 2018
He initially joined Newcastle on a loan deal from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, which they later made permanent with the player signing a five-year contract at the club.
He made 24 appearances last season but struggled to make much of an impression, only scoring once, and it would appear that he has been deemed surplus to requirements by manager Rafael Benitez.
Newcastle have already bolstered their midfield options with the capture of Ki Sung-yueng on a free transfer from Swansea City, and Benitez will be hoping that the sales of the likes of Merino will help convince the notoriously difficult owners of Newcastle to spend the money needed to ensure his side will not be stuck in a relegation battle next season.
The club are thought to be looking for a new forward, with Nice striker Alassane Plea rumoured to be one of the players on their shortlist. The addition of at least two or three quality players could be fundamental in ensuring both the future of the club in the Premier League and also the long-term future of Benitez as manager, who has had an up and down relationship with the owners.