Mikel Merino has admitted to the Chronicle that he is missing life at Newcastle United a little, six months after returning to Spain with Real Sociedad.
The highly-rated midfielder spent the 2017/18 season at St James' Park, initially arriving on loan from Borussia Dortmund before Newcastle snapped him up on a permanent basis after a fine start to life in English football.
But he struggled for game time in the second half of the campaign due to an ill-timed back injury, losing his place in the starting XI to Jonjo Shelvey and a resurgent Mo Diame.
Newcastle fans were still taken aback, however, when he left in July for Real Sociedad, the La Liga outfit triggering his £10.5 million release clause.
And, speaking to the Chronicle, the one-time Osasuna star admitted that he looks back longingly on his time on Tyneside.
“I still try to follow all the matches that Newcastle play. I'm still a Newcastle fan. I think I will always be one,” said Merino, who Rafa Benitez once compared to his former Liverpool linchpin Xabi Alonso.
"(Leaving) was tough. It was not an easy decision for me. I miss a lot of things from Newcastle and the way they treated me was pretty awesome because I felt almost like I was at home.
“The city was really beautiful and the people there showed me a lot of love. Not only the league and the football but the culture and everything.”
Merino has impressed since moving to San Sebastian, scoring twice in 15 La Liga games and shining as Sociedad deservedly beat Real Madrid 2-0 at the Bernebau in January.
At the age of 22, he is only going to get better and his £10.5 million price-tag could soon look like a bargain.