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20180531 Mikel Merino.jpg

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Merino out to build on first season as a Magpie

Written by Tom Easterby

Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino has set his sights on becoming a key part of the Magpies side as he looks to build on his first season at the club.

The 21-year-old arrived at St. James’ Park from Borussia Dortmund in July 2017, initially penning a loan deal before making the move permanent in October.

Spanish under-21 international Merino made an immediate impact at United, but found his opportunities limited towards the end of the campaign due to the form of Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diamé.

And he said he would be aiming to kick-off 2018/19 at “a high level” as he bids to make himself a fixture in the Newcastle line-up.

“I’ll try to improve myself, I’ll try to play more minutes, to be an important part of the team and an important player,” he told nufc.co.uk. “I want to increase my offensive skills, try to make more goals, try to be more confident with ball and try to make my teammates play better.

“In the summer I will work on my less strong things, like using more of the right foot and things like that, and in the pre-season I’ll try to improve myself even more and start the season at a high level.”

In all, Merino made 25 appearances in 2017/18, scoring once – the winner against Crystal Palace in October – and he also featured for his country in their European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign.

And he feels that while his first season in black and white has been something of a learning curve, the future could be bright for Rafa Benítez’s side.

“It has been a big season for me. It was my first season as a professional player in the highest division and, for me, I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “I’m happy because I’ve been in a really good group with really good players, learning in arguably the best league in the world, and I think I’ve got a lot more things to improve. But it’s been a very good first year for me.

“When you play against the best players in the world, at this level, where every single thing and every single mistake counts, you learn a lot. The pace, the tempo and the intensity is amazing, and with those minutes you play you learn a lot. I think it’s going to be a really good season next season, and in the future.”

"I’ll try to improve myself, I’ll try to play more minutes, to be an important piece in the team and an important player."

Mikel Merino

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