Mikel Merino is one of the most promising Basque footballers around and Athletic Club wants to sign him. The Lions tried to secure his transfer last summer, but rivals Osasuna chose instead to sell him to Borussia Dortmund for a fee that could rise as high as €5 million with variables. Nearly a year later, Athletic has not given up and bringing the midfielder to the San Mames and has been in negotiations with the Germans about making the deal happen.
One major thing that is working in Athletic’s favor is the fact that Mikel Merino wants the move to happen. He barely featured for Borussia Dortmund last season and has told the club that he doesn’t want that to happen again. He desires a switch back to Spain and is aware that Athletic Club wants to bring him to the San Mames. It is a move that he is in favor of and that could lead him to help push the deal through. Merino wants to play somewhere that he could have more regular minutes and become a starter in the near future, which is something that the Lions have told him that he would have in Bilbao.
According to a new report from Alfonso Herran of AS, Athletic wants to get the transfer done before 16 June which is when Mikel Merino will begin his summer matches with Spain’s U-21 team. However, the report also says that the 22-year-old and his agent would rather wait to handle a transfer after 30 June when the international matches in Poland come to a close. Manager Kuko Ziganda, who played with Merino’s father, Miguel, at Osasuna, wants the deal done as soon as possible.
Even though Athletic and Merino want to get the deal done, they will still have to convince Borussia Dortmund. The Germans have no reason to sell their young international starlet despite having a plethora of options in front of him. For this reason, Juanma Velasca of Marca has reported that BVB only want to sell Merino if they can keep a buy-back option on him. Of course, this something that Athletic will not agree to which means they will likely have to pay even more to convince the Germans of an outright sale. So far no numbers have been mentioned by anyone close to the situation, but the belief is that Athletic will have to pay, at least, more than the original total transfer fee which was €5 million. The Lions want to move quickly to seal this deal, but Valencia and FC Koln are also said to be in pursuit.