Mikel Merino highlights Newcastle welcome as instrumental in signing permanent deal
By George Galpin
Last Updated: 13/10/17 6:15pm
Mikel Merino says the welcome he has received in his "new home" was a big reason in his decision to sign for Newcastle permanently.
The midfielder arrived at St James' Park in the summer initially on a season-long loan deal from Borussia Dortmund, but the move was made permanent after an impressive start.
The Spanish Under-21 international has explained the warmth he felt on his arrival was a factor in signing a five-year deal.
Merino said: "I'm really happy, it's a good thing for me to be here for the next years. I feel the love from all my team-mates and all the people who have congratulated me on this contract.
"Of course (it feels like home) because of the way the team has been with me, the way the fans have been with me, the city. I like the people here and it feels like another home for me, my new home and I'm happy to be here."
The midfielder, who came through the ranks at boyhood club Osasuna before moving to Germany, has started all but one of Newcastle's games this season under Rafa Benitez.
Merino was full of praise for his manager in the way he has tutored him since the move to Tyneside.
He added: "For me, Rafa is an important part of the process, because of the things he can report not just to me but to the whole team. It is important that he is here and all the things that I can learn from him.
"I feel I have a lot of things to improve and to develop and he is a good mentor to help me; so far I have learnt a lot of things mostly tactically and he is always giving me advice. I'm so happy to learn from him and in time I will learn a lot more."
In his short spell in England, Merino has become something of a fan favourite at St James' Park with his dynamic displays in midfield winning him plenty of admirers.
But as much as he appreciates the respect of the supporters, the midfielder admitted he has not quite got to grips of the local dialect.
He said: "Not yet! I have struggled with normal English but I have to learn. I have to study the Geordie language and in a few months, maybe I will understand it."
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