There is no question that Newcastle's decision to sign Mikel Merino on loan in the summer is already starting to look like a masterstroke with the Spaniard putting in a number of very good displays for the Magpies.
The loan may have cost £2.7 million, but the fact that the Chronicle reports that he will be available for a permanent move for just £6.5 million suggests that Newcastle could be on the verge of a game-changing bargain.
And while there are a number of areas of the 21-year-old's game that deserve praise, one statistic just highlights how excellent an addition he has been.
N'Golo Kante has undoubtedly cemented himself as one of the most important midfielders in the Premier League over the last couple of years, winning the title in both seasons, having left Leicester for Chelsea last summer.
Meanwhile, Idrissa Gueye has also established himself as a crucial player in Everton's system, so for Merino to be amongst those players in any area would be a major statement.
But in terms of tackles won so far this season, that is exactly where Merino is. The Borussia Dortmund-owned midfielder has won 19 challenges, leaving him just one behind Gueye and two behind Kante after seven games, as the table below shows.
|Team||Total Tackles||Tackles Won||Appearances|
|Pablo Zabaleta||West Ham||22||15||7|
While he has attempted fewer challenges than both Kante and Gueye, Merino actually boasts the best success rate of the three at around 82 percent.
And Rafa Benitez will be hoping, if Merino does continue to play at such a high level, that Newcastle manage to get the permanent deal done as quickly as possible as he is shaping up to become a talisman for the side.