MIKEL MERINO thinks he is in the right place to fulfil his footballing dreams after quickly establishing himself as a firm fans’ favourite at Newcastle United.

The young Spaniard has had many fans purring with some of his performances since moving from Borussia Dortmund and he headed in his first goal for the club against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Merino, 21, has had people suggesting he has the potential to be a long term success at the highest level after the impact he has enjoyed on Tyneside, leading to suggestions he could even be a future Real Madrid or Barcelona target.

But he is not thinking about any of that having just signed a five-year contract at St James’ Park, where his initial season-long loan didn’t last long because he completed a permanent switch worth £9m.

Merino said: “I am in the right place because I have the confidence from the coach, the people and my teammates. I am happy here, the way they live here, the type of city and the people in it. Now I am happy here and I think that’s good for me.

“As a player you always want to have big ambitions, to think and dream big, I am no different. I’m not going to say I want to do this or that though because I am just young. I have other things to do first.

“The important thing is to think about the small steps and they could lead to bigger things like the national team at some point. I just want to care about this team, my team-mates and improving. I think dreams will be filled if I do the right job.”

Merino is already an important fixture in the Spanish Under-21s and it seems he is destined to graduate onto full international honours if he continues to develop as he is.

Yet he was still left out of Newcastle’s last couple of games, only to emerge as a substitute and nod in the winner against Palace.

“Sometimes you have to go on the bench and it doesn’t matter because the coach trusts different players for different games,” said Merino. “Of course I want to play in all of the games if I deserve it but it doesn’t matter as long as my team-mates are winning and we are all winning together. We have good players in every position.

“It’s good to have the points we have already, we know we are doing a good job in terms of effort and the points. We have not done anything yet though and we have to keep going like this. If we keep going like this during the whole league then we will be in a good position.”

The players are all being told to concentrate on the task at hand by Rafael Benitez, despite the ongoing talk of takeovers. Mike Ashley is waiting for interested parties to carry out due diligence on the financial books at Newcastle before deciding whether to make an offer to buy him out.

Ashley wants in the region of £400m before Christmas so Benitez can then look to invest in the squad in January, even though the manager claims he is satisfied with the men he has at his disposal now.

Merino said: “Personally I don’t think much about the takeover, I don’t know what my teammates think. We just have to focus on football because other things can distract you. We can’t worry about other things.”

Merino has started well in that sense. Now, ahead of next Monday’s trip to Burnley, he hopes to build on his bright start and he could well have forced his way back into the starting line-up having replaced Isaac Hayden against Palace.

“It’s a great feeling to score my first,” he said. “I am more than happy to have got three points too. I don’t score a lot of goals but it is nice to have got this goal that has earned three points.

“It doesn’t matter how you score as long as they go beyond the three posts. For me it is incredible to help the team and to see everyone celebrate it like they did.

“It’s always nice to hear nice things said about you but you don’t have to think too much about things like that, it is important to stay relaxed and focused on what you are doing.

“Maybe some days you don’t play as well and you are told you are a bad player. I am grateful for that. I just have to say thanks to everyone for believing in me and I want to carry on.”