Mikel Merino and Newcastle looked like a match made in heaven.
The Spaniard arrived in 2017 from Borussia Dortmund, with most fans unaware of the talent he possessed.
Merino quickly showed his new fans what he was capable of, with glorious passing and footwork. He was even strong in the tackle, which further endeared him to the Toon Army.
With Jonjo Shelvey struggling with discipline, Merino stepped up and took his place, adapted to Premier League life at an alarming rate.
Merino cherishes Palace strike
His first goal was a winner against Crystal Palace, as he headed home a corner in the pouring rain to make it 1-0. Okay, it kind of just hit him in the back of the head, but that’s not the point.
And the young midfielder has admitted he will remember that moment forever.
“I remember running back to our own half because we had to start the match again and listening to the whole stadium singing my song was amazing and I couldn’t help but smile a little bit because it is a memory that I will always remember,” he told the Chronicle.
Sadly, injury derailed Merino’s first and only season in the North East. He suffered a back problem that effectively ruined his season. He was never the same player once he returned, meanwhile Shelvey and Mo Diame had formed a stunning partnership.
Everything conspired against the Spain Under-21 international, and he left in the summer. He returned to his homeland, with Real Sociedad paying a reported €12million.
That goal against Palace was key in the fight for Premier League survival. It’s a massive shame that it turned out to be Merino’s only strike in Newcastle colours.