Not long after Mikel Merino arrived at Newcastle, it was clear we had a real player on our hands.

The midfielder was graceful in possession, gliding past players and picking out passes, whilst also winning tackles and breaking up play in the middle of the park.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

He was relatively unknown when he arrived from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but he quickly showed his class.

But before he could really make his mark in the Premier League he was gone. An ill-timed back injury ruled him out of action for a while, allowing Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame to step up and form a stunning partnership. In the second half of the season, our strong run of form was based on the solid foundation we had in midfield.

Merino couldn’t get back in the team, and ultimately left that summer for Real Sociedad. We didn’t even get much money, with a small release clause in his contract allowing him to leave for just £10 million.

(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

He ended his Newcastle career with just one goal, scoring the winner against Crystal Palace on a rainy day in October 2017. And ahead our latest 1-0 win over Palace on Saturday, Merino reacted to a video of his goal, writing on Twitter: “Amazing feeling. Great memories.”

Toon fans responded in their droves, with a clear message for the Spaniard – you left St James’ Park far too early and we miss you.

Newcastle fans wish Merino was still a Geordie

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