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Mikel Merino is confident he can break into Spain squad while at Newcastle

Mikel Merino is confident he can break into Spain squad while at Newcastle
By PA Sport

13/10/2017 at 22:39Updated 13/10/2017 at 22:47

Mikel Merino is confident he can fulfil his dream of playing international football for Spain while at Newcastle.

Mikel Merino is confident he can fulfil his dream of playing international football for Spain while at Newcastle.

The 21-year-old completed a permanent switch from Borussia Dortmund to St James' Park on Friday just seven games into a season-long loan spell.

After already representing his country at under-age levels, Merino is now looking to follow in the footsteps of greats such as Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Andres Iniesta.

He said: "It is my dream. It will be hard and I will never think it will be easy - you only have to see the squad and the players we have. We have some of the best in the world.

"It is probably not ready to happen right now, but I hope to be near in the future. And yes I can achieve that here - why not?"

Merino, who is understood to have cost around £7million, has quickly established himself as a fans' favourite at Newcastle and there was general delight at Friday's announcement.

However, some supporters are already starting to fear he will eventually be snatched away by one of Spain's bigger clubs.

He said with a smile: "For me, it is great that some supporters think that way, but I have to stay calm and just look to the next match.

"I am going to be here for a long time, just enjoying this club and this team and hoping to do good things for them."

Merino will hope to retain his place in the team for Sunday's Premier League trip to Southampton, where he could once again line up alongside Jonjo Shelvey, who will be wearing a protective cast on the finger he broke while intervening in a training ground bust-up between skipper Jamaal Lascelles and midfielder Mohamed Diame.

Manager Rafael Benitez, who revealed the two players have offered to buy lunch for their team-mates by way of apology, was relaxed about the incident.

He said: "It's something that could be negative, but in the end, it's positive. They are all together."

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