April 23, 2024

Mikel Merino, a former Newcastle United midfielder, is currently playing in the Champions League knockout stages, with one Real Sociedad teammate describing the Spain international as a ‘world-class’ player.

Wednesday’s last-16 meeting at the Parc des Princes highlighted both Imanol Alguacil’s team’s strengths and weaknesses.

La Real repeatedly sliced open the PSG backline. However, when it came to putting the ball in the back of the net, the visitors showed to be as blunt as a butter knife when compared to Kylian Mbappe’s razor-sharp katana.
Real Sociedad failed to score for the sixth consecutive game in all competitions, a streak that appears set to end their Champions League season while jeopardizing their chances of qualifying for Europe at all in 2024/25.

Former Newcastle United man Mikel Merino shining in Spain


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Kieran Tierney, who is on loan at Anoeta from Arsenal, believes La Real has a handful of truly ‘world-class’ players at their disposal, notably Mikel Merino, a former Newcastle United youth.

It’s telling, though, that none of Tierney’s finest players are centre-forwards, with Andre Silva, Carlos Fernandez, and Umar Sadiq routinely missing chances created by Merino, Brais Mendez, and the dazzling Takefusa Kubo.

“I was up against Take Kubo in the first couple of weeks of training, so seeing how sharp he is struck me,” Tierney tells The Guardian. Sociedad’s effervescent Japan international was the standout performance in their 2-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain.

“You have world-class players like (Martin) Zubimendi, Merino, and Brais.” It’s not that people doubt their abilities.

“It’s simply that if you only watch the Premier League every week, it’s difficult to judge (how excellent certain guys are). “They are world-class.”


Merino notoriously lasted only one season at St James’ Park, appearing 25 matches under Rafael Benitez before the La Liga club triggered the £10 million release clause on his Newcastle contract.

Merino, now 27, has over 20 caps for Spain after leaving Tyneside. He was also named to La Liga’s Team of the Year for 2022/23.

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