Aston Villa line up £57m move for former Newcastle United star signed by Rafa Benitez

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One former Magpie is set for a big money move back to the Premier League.

Newcastle United could face a reunion with former Magpie Mikel Merino before the end of the season as a Premier League rival considers a move for the Spain international.

The talented midfielder moved to Tyneside from Borussia Dortmund on an initial season-long loan deal in the summer of 2017 but the move was made permanent within three months after United took up a £6.5m option in the initial agreement. However, the initial promise shown by Merino during the early days of his time at St James Park became a rarity and he returned to Spain when he joined Real Sociedad 12 months after his initial move to Newcastle.

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Despite suffering what some may feel was an underwhelming time in the Premier League, Merino recently told The Athletic he learnt a lot from his time as a Magpies, saying: “Newcastle was amazing. I felt like I was home there, the people were so kind to me. I’d walk around the streets and everybody would call me. The stadium was always full, home and away. It was great to play in the Premier League, to experience the physical side of a league where you have to go strong in the tackles. It’s not about managing the ball and giving passes, but strength and going into battle.”

Merino has gone on to be a key cog in an impressive Sociedad side, helping the Basque outfit to a Copa del Rey win in 2020 and to successive top six finishes in La Liga over the last two seasons. There are now reports in Spain suggesting Aston Villa manager Unai Emery is keen to hand the midfielder a second chance to shine in the Premier League, with Mundo Deportivo suggesting the Spaniard is willing to activate a £57m release clause in his current contract. Liverpool are also mentioned as a potential suitor but the report states the Reds would prefer a move during the summer transfer window, rather than over the next two weeks.

Magpies ‘preference’ for England star summer deal as Serie A giants make contract decision

Newcastle’s interest in Leicester City and England star James Maddison could be revived during the summer transfer window.

That was the verdict of journalist Fabrizio Romano after he revealed Lazio star and reported Magpies target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic will remain with the Serie A club until the end of the campaign and could extend his current contract at the Stadio Olimpico. The Serbia international has been linked with a move to Tyneside during the January transfer window but Romano has suggested Maddison is United’s priority and they could make another move for the former Norwich City star during the summer.

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He told WettFreunde: “I think Milinkovic-Savic will stay at Lazio until the end of the season. Newcastle’s priority is Leicester’s James Maddison. They really love him but it probably won’t be possible to sign him in January. I think they will attack the Maddison situation again in the summer. Lazio want to extend Milinkovic-Savic’s contract so it will be very difficult to sign him but he is a very good player. In my opinion he is very underestimated.”

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