A real blast from the past this Monday. According to The Mail, Leeds United have sent scouts to watch none other than Fran Merida in action for Spanish second tier league leaders Osasuna in recent weeks.
Merida might have only played just six times in his Premier League career but it's what he did not achieve, rather than what he did, that will have fans all across the country intrigued by one of the most eye-catching transfer stories for some time.
The former Spain Under-21 international was seen as a bonafide wonderkid when Arsenal nabbed him from Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy at the age of just 15 to the fury of the Catalan giants. However, the player tipped to be Cesc Fabregas’ long-term successor at The Emirates is now considered closer to the likes of Denilson than the 2010 World Cup winner.
And Merida’s failure to fulfil that vast potential can be traced back to one watershed moment – his decision to leave Arsenal for boyhood club Atletico Madrid back in 2010.
'It was a mistake'
“It was a mistake, I wasn’t patient,” the 27-year-old, who featured just 20 times in La Liga in two years, explained in a 2015 interview with Yahoo Sport . “I realise that now, but I’ve never been a patient person.”
“I had some opportunities but the competition was high. Arsenal bought Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere into the first-team. Samir Nasri, Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky and Denilson were also in my position. It was difficult for me.”
"[Atletico] offered me a four-year contract and I still felt that I wasn’t going to play every week at Arsenal. I said goodbye.”
However, after rebuilding his career somewhat with Osasuna, Merida may have the chance to put things right and return to England in January.
Merida may never be the new Fabregas but, at Leeds, he would have the opportunity to prove his worth in front of huge crowds in one of Europe’s most competitive leagues.