New Newcastle United signing Mikel Merino can shine in the Premier League and will provide boss Rafael Benitez with some much-needed versatility, says Bundesliga expert Don Hutchison.
The Magpies signed the 21-year-old on a season-long loan from German giants Borussia Dortmund yesterday and the former-Scotland international-turned television pundit has tipped him to make a big impact on Tyneside.
“It’s not easy standing out when you’re playing in a squad as good as theirs and Merino didn’t play that much. But when he did feature for them, he caught my eye,” the Gateshead-born 46-year-old told The Chronicle.
Hutchison watched Merino in the German top flight last year and says that despite the Spain Under-21 international making just eight appearances at the Westfalenstadion he can make the cut in the Premier League.
Perhaps Merino’s biggest asset is that he can play in a number of positions and equally comfortable in central defence, at left-back or in the midfield. This could be invaluable for compatriot Benitez as he looks to build a squad capable of handling the rigours of a difficult season in the Premier League.
Having risen through the youth academy at La Liga side Osasuna, Merino possesses great technical ability and an excellent football brain and whilst many foreign imports from the continent take their time to adjust to the physical style of the English game Hutchison believes that the young Spaniard has the stature to adapt quickly.
“Physically he’s a good size and he’s certainly not afraid of putting a tackle in,” he continued.
“He’s decent in the air too so I don’t think it’ll be a problem with him slotting into the Premier League and making an impression.”
Merino becomes the Magpies fifth summer signing and though those at the club will be pleased at their business in the transfer market so far, there is still work to be done ahead of the start of the new season in two weeks time.
Finding a central striker remains the top priority and although rumours have linked players such as Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi, Burnley’s Andre Gray and even former Newcastle target man Andy Carroll with a move to St. James’ Park nothing has yet been finalised.