Mikel Merino now appears to face a battle to win back his place at Newcastle United.
Merino was one of Newcastle’s star players over the early part of the season, and the Magpies quickly moved to make his transfer from Borussia Dortmund permanent in an £8 million transfer (Telegraph).
Newcastle then had to fight hard to keep hold of the Spaniard over the January transfer window.
But it seems that Merino now will have difficulty breaking back into Rafael Benitez’s first-team over the remainder of the campaign.
It was expected that Merino was set to be an integral player all campaign long for Benitez's men, but his importance to the team has diminished in recent weeks.
Newcastle picked up a 1-0 victory over Manchester United, with Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey impressing in the heart of midfield.
Diame and Shelvey have become Newcastle’s first choice midfield pairing over recent weeks, with Merino having to watch from the sidelines.
Merino has made just two starts in Newcastle’s last nine outings, and it seems that the best the 21-year-old can now hope for is a rotational role, if Shelvey and Diame continue to keep up their current standard of performance.