Former Arsenal prospect Fran Merida stars for Huesca in shock Copa del Rey upset

Villarreal, El Madrigal

Fran Merida left Arsenal for Atletico Madrid in 2010, but his career failed to take off in La Liga and he’s now with Huesca in the Segunda Division.

Like Hector Bellerin and Cesc Fabregas before him, Fran Merida arrived from Barcelona as a youngster Arsenal had high hopes for.

But unlike Bellerin and Fabregas, the cultured midfielder never managed to fully convince Arsene Wenger he was worthy, or perhaps simply ready, to feature on a regular basis for the first team.

Over the course of three years, Merida made 16 appearances – six in the Premier League – scoring twice for the north London side.

Yet, Wenger evidently still had hopes he would progress with the club and, as his contract ran down, new terms were offered.

Merida thought otherwise, however, moving to Atletico Madrid in what would prove to be the first in a series of disastrous, and noticeably short, spells with a variety of clubs.

Over the next few years he played for Braga, Hercules and Atletico Paranaense in Brazil before finally returning to Spain with Huesca.

Still just 25, in his first season with the club, Merida helped Huesca earn promotion from the Segunda Division B to the Segunda Division – just one level below the Spanish top-flight.

But his finest display for Huesca was to come, with Merida among the goalscorers as the Aragon club upset the odds to defeat Villarreal 3-2 in the Copa del Rey.

After a campaign in which the midfielder had racked up no goals but some five yellow cards, this display could prove to be the spark that ignites Merida’s season.

And few Arsenal fans would begrudge him that.

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