🔎 Scouting Sessions: Real Sociedad midfielder posting insane numbers

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Every week, we will be highlighting a LaLiga player who deserves your attention.

And here’s a midfielder who is quickly developing into one of the best around.

Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad)

Mikel Merino has struggled to settle at various clubs until he found a home with Real Sociedad.

But who is the Spaniard, what are his strengths and why is he generating so much excitement?

History

Born in Pamplona, Merino was scouted by local side Osasuna (aged nine) before developing through their youth system and eventually making his first-team debut in 2014.

The midfielder made an instant impression and was signed by famed talent spotters Borussia Dortmund two years later, only to join Newcastle on-loan after one season.

Merino started brilliantly at St James’ Park only to fall down the pecking order shortly after making his move permanent, leading to a cut-price €12m deal for Real Sociedad.

Style of play

Spain are famous for producing slick, technically gifted playmakers who can thread passes until no tomorrow but Merino offers a great balance with his defensive efforts.

The 24-year-old is currently averaging 2.8 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per 90 minutes this season, more than any other Real Sociedad player.

But that tenacity doesn’t detract from his productivity on the ball. Five LaLiga fixtures is a small sample size but the midfielder is still effective going forward.

Most key passes
Second most dribbles
Second most shots per game
This is a player with an extremely rounded skillset. Having featured at centre back occasionally, it’s clear that his most natural position is in the heart of midfield.

Future prospects

This almost feels like a perfect marriage. Merino is finally playing regularly and more importantly, feels trusted, by manager Imanol Alguacil who has built his side around him.

His stock continues to grow at international level too, having played the whole 90 minutes for Spain against Switzerland (and assisted one goal) after featuring for every youth side.

Bigger things await him. But his best football has come in San Sebastián and until the right offer comes in, La Real will be targeting European football with Merino as their talisman.


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