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ATHLETIC

Athletic Bilbao going all in on effort to sign Mikel Merino

Rafa Benítez is the biggest issue and will not let the player leave but Merino is aware of the honour it would be to play for Athletic Bilbao as they push for his signature.

Update:
Mikel Merino ante el City.
SCOTT HEPPELLREUTERS

Athletic Bilbao maintain their interest in signing Mikel Merino but Rafa Benitez is trying to stop negotiations. The English club signed the central midfielder from Borussia Dortmund but Athletic Club were interested back then. This winter will mark the third time the Basque club have tried to sign the young Spaniard. Benitez, however, has stepped in and assured: "There is nothing, you are not going anywhere."

Merino, the international under-21 player came up in the Tajonar youth set-up with Osasuna before his exit to the Bundesliga two summers ago before moving to Newcastle last July. He played with regularity until three weeks ago and since then has only played fleetingly.

Various European clubs were interested in his services and the offer from Athletic Club was much higher than in the summer. The player has no clause in his contract and in Ibaigane they have an influx of cash after selling Laporte to Manchester City even after buying Iñigo Martínez as a replacement. The club believe now is the time to sign him up on a long term deal.

José Angel Ziganda loves the player and what he offers and he knows he needs to stir things up with a tilt at the Europa League and a drive up the table on the cards in the last six months of the season. Merino knows that Athletic Club Bilbao means with Larrainzar, Raúl García and Cuco himself have explained it to him

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