Merino signs permanent Toon deal

Missed penalty brings down grandstand light

Newcastle United have rewarded midfielder Mikel Merino by turning his loan spell into a permanent move.

The 21-year-old Spanish under 21 international was brought in by manager Rafael Benitez during the off-season and has played in every Premier League game this season.

A former Osasuna midfielder, Merino joined the Toon after a season in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, and will be at St James' Park until 2022 after signing a five-year deal.

Speaking to the club's official website after signing his new contract, Merino said: "I’m really happy to be here, and for this part of the contract to finally be official. I’m happy to be here for five more years and I hope to keep playing for this club and to give good things to all the people and the club.

“I have been focused on football always, but it’s good to know it’s now official and people will know it. I’m focused on my displays and improving myself, and I’m really happy to have signed this contract.”

Benitez added: “I’m really pleased we have been able to bring Mikel to the club permanently. He has played very well since he joined us. He has settled in quickly, has a lot of quality on the ball and is keen to learn – that is a crucial part of his future development.

“He has made a great impression at the club, and he is a good professional. He has confidence, but he is still young and has things to improve. He has to keep working hard and playing well, and hopefully he can improve and enjoy playing here.”