Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino looks set to leave St. James' Park to move to Real Sociedad.
Merino is set to leave Newcastle to join Real Sociedad this summer, after the Spanish club met his release clause.
Benitez admits that Newcastle are powerless to stop Merino leaving St. James’ Park.
But the Spanish boss is disappointed to be losing such a talented player, all the same.
“It was a pity because obviously he wanted to play more football. He is a young player and he struggled to get back into the team because [Mo] Diame and [Jonjo] Shelvey were doing so well,” Benitez said.
“That meant Merino didn’t get much gametime, then we had three or four Spanish clubs who were interested in him.
“In the end it was something we couldn’t control because he decided to go. We knew that could happen, so we had to be prepared - and in the end we were.”
Merino joined newcastle from Borussia Dortmund last summer, and his loan move was quickly made permanent after an excellent start.
The central midfielder began life on Tyneside brilliantly, with his performances really catching the eye.
However, injury struck and from that moment on, Merino never really managed to get back into the team.
The 22-year-old still looks to have a very bright future, but Newcastle fans look set to have to watch Merino from afar now.