Former Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino has reflected on his time in the Premier League, claiming it was a 'special', prior to leaving the club to join Real Sociedad last summer.
Having initially signed for Rafael Benitez's men on a season-long loan from Borussia Dortmund in July 2017, Merino quickly established himself as a fan favourite at St. James' Park, and was signed permanently on a five year contract just three months later.
Reminiscing on his experience on Tyneside with ChronicleLive, Merino was full of praise for his former boss, revealing he learnt plenty from his short stint at Newcastle under his countryman's tutelage.
"It was great to have a Spanish manager who has made such a big impact in the game and in England with the fans," Merino said.
"I learnt a lot of things: what I need to do and what I don't have to do on the pitch. That helped me a lot. Not only him but all my team-mates and of course in the league, every single match was special and you could learn something different from every training session."
After starting six of the first seven games of the 2017/18 season, Merino suffered a back injury and never quite recovered to reclaim his starting berth. Eventually, due to a lack of game time, he moved back to his homeland in a £10m deal last summer, but still holds fond memories of his time with the Magpies.
"I miss a lot of things from Newcastle and the way they treated me was pretty awesome because I felt almost like I was at home, he added.
"The city was really beautiful and the people there showed me a lot of love. Not only the league and the football but the culture and everything. I was living there with a friend and we both miss it a little bit because they are experiences that maybe you don't live again in the same way. This time was really special."