The Mikel Merino saga looks like it is set to drag on at Newcastle after the latest report suggested that the young Spanish midfielder is ‘disheartened’ at St. James’ Park.
The Chronicle quote a source as saying the 21-year-old became increasingly frustrated with his lack of game time towards the end of the season, and has been left weighing up his future.
This disheartening claim comes amid rumours that Athletic Bilbao have made Merino their number one target this summer, with the Basque club continuing their long-standing interest in the youngster.
There seems to be an emerging trend with Merino in that a transfer story will emerge before differing claims about his intentions this summer then come out before it all goes quiet again.
However, that has in turn made it clear that there are major questions to be asked about Merino’s commitment to the club, and maybe the Magpies should cut their losses this summer.
Merino is a talented young player, there is no doubt about that.
Ever since he made his debut as a substitute against Tottenham on the opening day, it was clear for the whole Toon Army to see that this is a player with huge potential.
But for one reason or another that potential has not yet begun to manifest itself on Tyneside, with Merino struggling with injury but also being left out of matchday squads when fully fit.
And, if you look to the future, things are not exactly about to get any easier for the 21-year-old.
Benitez will likely strengthen his squad in the midfield area in the coming weeks, and the established first-team duo of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame look tough to break up.
As it stands Newcastle will be able to make a pretty healthy profit on Merino, with an exit potentially seeing them more than double their £6million investment.
Athletic Bilbao obviously want Merino badly, and with first-team opportunities available for him plus a profit on the table for Newcastle, an exit is the best solution for all parties.
Benitez must therefore green light what would be a surprise exit for Newcastle, and one which will likely not go down too well among the Toon Army.