Mikel Merino posts on Instagram as Newcastle departure confirmed

Mikel Merino of Newcastle United arrives ahead of the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton at St. James Park on March 10, 2018 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Merino has left Newcastle to join La Liga side Real Sociedad.

Mikel Merino of Newcastle United reacts after missing a chance during the Premier League match between Watford and Newcastle United at Vicarage Road on May 5, 2018 in Watford, England.

Mikel Merino has applauded the Newcastle United fans after his move from St. James' Park to La Liga side Real Sociedad was confirmed on Thursday afternoon.

The 22-year-old has been linked with a move away from Newcastle for much of the summer, after falling down the pecking order under Rafa Benitez around the Christmas period due to a back injury.

It saw him appear for just 93 minutes from March onwards, and has now decided to end his stay on Tyneside just 12 months after moving to Newcastle on loan - before a permanent £7million deal was activated.

Merino posted on Instagram to thank Newcastle fans for their support and to describe his time in the north east as a "massive experience" that he "will never forget".

The Spain Under-21 international made 25 appearances for Newcastle in all competitions during his time with the Magpies, his highlight likely being the winner in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in October.

The former Borussia Dortmund star has signed a five-year contract with Sociedad, which leaves Rafa Benitez with just Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey and Mo Diame in central midfield.

Newcastle United's Spanish midfielder Mikel Merino reacts at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Newcastle United at Goodison Park in...

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