Athletic Club hasn’t signed a new player in almost 700 days. The Basques have a limited market due to their transfer policy, but that doesn’t not mean that they aren’t looking for ways to improve the team. For over a year now they have had their sights set on Mikel Merino who joined Borussia Dortmund last summer. The two clubs have been in negotiations for a few months now and it finally looks like something may be resolved relatively soon.
According to a report from Javier Beltran of AS, Athletic Club and BVB have intensified their negotiations over the last few days and the Lions may be able to secure his transfer this week. The projected fee would be around €10 million.
The Germans have been clear about not wanting to outright sell the 21-year-old, but are more than aware that he needs regular minutes to continue developing. There were offers from the likes of Valencia and Alaves to take him on loan, but Merino was vocal about only wanting to join Athletic this summer. In truth, the player’s persistency may be what pushes the deal through in the end. He knows that he can play an important role in Cuco Ziganda’s squad and could one day challenge for a starting spot at the San Mames.
Merino is currently on summer vacation after playing with Spain’s U21 team, like that of Kepa Arrizabalaga and Inaki Williams. Athletic hopes to finalize the deal in enough time so that he can be available for next week’s Europa League clash with Dinamo Bucuresti. Even if he isn’t able to train enough by then, he will provide vital strength in the midfield for the upcoming season and give Athletic a long-term option behind someone like Benat. Merino has shown the potential to become a world class midfielder and Athletic has every intention of giving him the chance to become just that.