Mérida warming up for Arsenal in 2009
|Full name||Francisco Mérida Pérez|
|Date of birth||4 March 1990|
|Place of birth||Barcelona, Spain|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|2008||→ Real Sociedad (loan)||17||(1)|
|2011||→ Braga (loan)||5||(0)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 4 June 2016.
He signed at the age of 17 with Arsenal from Barcelona, but only appeared in 16 official games over the course of three seasons with the club. Subsequently he returned to his country with Atlético Madrid, where he also featured sparingly before leaving in 2012.
Born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Mérida joined the youth ranks of FC Barcelona at the age of eight, but left the club in September 2005, being reportedly hidden away by his agent, Joseba Díaz, which led to speculation that he would leave with no compensation for the team; his parents had become uneasy about all the young players joining Barcelona and felt that he would have a better chance elsewhere; therefore, they approached Díaz, also Cesc Fàbregas' agent, and he promptly alerted Real Madrid, A.C. Milan and Arsenal, with the player eventually signing for the latter.
On 9 October 2007 Mérida was ordered by the courts to pay a fee around €3.2 million to Barcelona, as compensation for his "failing to meet the terms of a personal pre-contract" with the club. The decision was said to have serious implications for clubs in England, where players were allowed to sign professional contracts at 17, one year earlier than in Spain; in response, a Madrid-based lawyer, Rodrigo García, was quoted as saying: "English teams will now think again before signing a young Spanish player ... It's an important ruling."
Mérida's competitive debut came on 25 September 2007 when he came on as an added-time substitute for Eduardo da Silva in a 2–0 victory against Newcastle United in the third round of the League Cup, and he went on to make two further appearances in the competition. On 3 April 2008, he extended his deal with the club by signing a long-term (unspecified) contract, being expected to play an important role in the future as manager Arsène Wenger described him as "an absolutely amazing player".
On 27 December 2007 Iñaki Badiola, prospective presidential candidate of Real Sociedad, claimed he agreed a loan deal for Mérida until the end of the season in Segunda División. On 9 January of the following year, five days after he won the elections, the move was confirmed. He started in seven of his 17 appearances for the Basques during his five-month spell (723 minutes of action) and made six assists, but they failed to regain its La Liga status. On 6 April 2008, he scored his first professional goal, the winner as his team came from behind to defeat Hércules CF 2–1 at Anoeta.
Mérida returned to Arsenal for the 2008–09 campaign, making his first start in a 6–0 win over Sheffield United in the League Cup on 23 September 2008. On 2 March 2009 Wenger heaped praise on the player, claiming the reason for him making the bench for the previous few first team games was because "He has been doing very, very well. He looks really good in training and is getting stronger all the time."; he made his Premier League debut the following day - hours before his 19th birthday - coming off the bench for Samir Nasri in the dying minutes of a 3–1 win at West Bromwich Albion.
Mérida participated with Arsenal in the 2009 edition of the Emirates Cup: he replaced Aaron Ramsey midway through the second half of the team's first match, against Atlético Madrid, and started and created a goal for Eduardo against Rangers, a 3–0 win which certified the tournament's conquest. He was then included in the first team for the league season and handed shirt number 46 (later changing to 32), playing 20 minutes in the second match against Portsmouth.
On 28 October 2009, in the season's League Cup, Mérida contributed to a 2–1 home triumph over Liverpool, scoring from the edge of the area with the ball hitting the post on its way past goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri. After the game, Wenger confirmed how he came close to loan the player to Levante UD at the start of the campaign, changing his mind at the last minute because he had "too much quality" to let him leave. With his contract due to expire in June 2010, he said he was having talks with the club over a new deal and hoped they could come to an agreement, while Atlético Madrid president Enrique Cerezo showed his interest in bringing the youngster back to Spain if something wasn't worked out between player and club.
On 5 November 2009 Arsenal confirmed that Mérida had verbally agreed a deal with the club, but it had yet to be signed. Wenger then accused Atlético of tapping up the player after announcing their public interest of talking to him, saying "I can't say I'm annoyed by other clubs going after our players because we do it as well. But we do it legally." "The difference is that we do not do what is not allowed by the law. We try to get the best players everywhere when it is allowed by the rules."
Mérida made only eight official appearances for Arsenal during the season, including one against Bolton Wanderers on 17 January 2010, in which he scored his first Premier League goal in a 2–0 success.
On 25 May 2010, Atlético Madrid officially announced that Mérida was on his way to the Vicente Calderón Stadium on a free transfer, after refusing Arsenal's contract offer at the end of the campaign. He scored his first official goal for his new club on 27 October, in a 5–0 win against Universidad de Las Palmas CF for the Copa del Rey.
On 16 December 2010 Mérida scored his third goal for the Colchoneros, netting in his first touch in a 1–1 draw at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, with the defending champions of the UEFA Europa League crashing out after the group stage.
He started 2011–12 on loan to S.C. Braga in Portugal. In late December 2011, however, after just eight official appearances (five in the Primeira Liga, 132 minutes overall), he was recalled by Atlético.
On 8 August 2012, Mérida returned to the Spanish second division by signing a four-year deal at Hércules. His only goal during the second tier season came from the penalty spot, against Real Madrid Castilla in a 2–4 home loss on 8 October, and he also received a straight red card in a 1–2 defeat at Real Murcia on 6 January 2013 for protesting the awarding of a spot-kick.
In February 2013, after rescinding his contract for a fee of €100,000, Mérida signed for one year with Brazilian side Clube Atlético Paranaense. An unused substitute for the first half of the Série A season, he made his debut on 19 September away to Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, scoring his team's first goal as they came from behind to triumph 4–2; he was the first Spaniard to score in Brazil since José Ufarte for Flamengo in 1964. A week later, in the year's Copa do Brasil, he was sent off for two bookings as a late substitute against Sport Club Internacional in the first game of the quarter-finals, being unused in both legs of the final, a 1–3 aggregate loss to Flamengo.
Mérida competed with the Furacão in the following year's Copa Libertadores, scoring in their penalty shootout victory over Sporting Cristal in the first stage. On 26 March 2014, in the group phase, he was ejected in a 1–3 home loss to Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield. He left in July, as his contract was not extended.
Mérida was without a club until 30 January 2015, when he signed a deal at SD Huesca until the end of the campaign in Segunda División B. He played 15 games as they won Group B and promoted, scoring in a 2–0 win over Rayo Vallecano B at the Estadio El Alcoraz on 29 March.
On 3 December 2015, Mérida scored a penalty as his team beat top-flight club Villarreal CF 3–2 at home in the last-16 of the Copa del Rey, but in an eventual 3–4 aggregate defeat. A month later, he scored and was sent off in a 3–3 draw at neighbours Real Zaragoza.
Mérida was part of the Spanish under-17 squad which won the 2007 UEFA European Championship. In July 2007 he also played for the team in the 2007 FIFA World Cup in South Korea, with the national team finishing second to Nigeria in a penalty shootout, with him missing the second penalty of the three taken.
Mérida was called up to the Spanish under-20 team for the 2009 World Cup held in Egypt: he starred in an 8–0 drubbing of Tahiti, scoring the fifth goal and providing an assist. In the next group game he continued his fine form and netted twice in a 2–0 win over Nigeria; after resting in the third group game against Venezuela (3–0) he played 76 minutes in the last-16 tie against Italy, which finished with a 1–3 loss.
|Real Sociedad||2007–08||Segunda División||17||1||0||0||—||17||1|
|Atlético Madrid||2010–11||La Liga||17||0||5||2||4[b]||1||1[c]||0||27||3|
|Atlético Paranaense||2013||Série A||6||1||4||0||6[d]||0||—||16||1|
|Huesca||2014–15||Segunda División B||21||1||0||0||—||21||1|
- Atlético Madrid
- Spain U17
- Saffer, Paul (2 May 2007). "Mérida to make Spain proud". UEFA.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
- "Fran Merida hit for £2m by Barcelona". The Daily Telegraph. 11 October 2007.
- Harris, Chris (7 August 2006). "Banfield – We have high hopes for Merida". Arsenal F.C. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
- "Fran Merida signs professional terms". Arsenal F.C. 8 March 2007. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
- Chowdhury, Saj (25 September 2007). "Arsenal 2–0 Newcastle". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "Wenger delight at Merida deal". Sky Sports. April 2008.
- "Mérida: "Aportaré mi granito de arena para intentar ascender"" [Mérida: "I will do whatever i can in order to promote"] (in Spanish). Real Sociedad. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011.
- "El Hércules pierde ante la Real Sociedad en los últimos diez minutos" [Hércules lose to Real Sociedad in the last ten minutes] (in Spanish). Diario Información. 6 April 2008. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
- "Bendtner bags brace". ESPN Soccernet. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Arsenal 3 – Rangers 0". Arsenal F.C. 2 August 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Fran Merida – Who is Arsenal's newest star?". Just Arsenal. 8 September 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- "Arsenal 4–1 Portsmouth". ESPN Soccernet. 22 August 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Sanghera, Mandeep (28 October 2009). "Arsenal 2–1 Liverpool". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
- Wilson, Steve (28 October 2009). "Arsenal starlet Mérida was heading out on loan". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Mérida – I hope I get new contract". Arsenal F.C. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
- "Aletico Madrid confirm interest in Arsenal's Fran Mérida". ESPN Soccernet. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
- "Wenger – Mérida deal ready to be signed". Arsenal F.C. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- "'Mérida deal would be 'massive' for us'". Arsenal F.C. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
- "Fabregas inspires Gunners to victory". ESPN Soccernet. 17 January 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Fran Mérida se compromete con el Atlético para las próximas cuatro temporadas" [Fran Mérida joins Atlético for next four seasons] (in Spanish). Atlético Madrid. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Champions relinquish defence". ESPN Soccernet. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Fran Mérida se va cedido un año al Sporting de Braga" [Fran Mérida loaned to Sporting de Braga for one year] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 28 August 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- "Sporting Braga to send Fran Merida back to Atletico Madrid". Goal.com. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
- "El Hércules se refuerza con Fran Mérida y a Portillo" [Hércules strengthen with Fran Mérida and Portillo] (in Spanish). Marca. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- Diaz, Javier (8 October 2012). "Hércules 2–4 Real Madrid Castilla: El filial blanco remonta y convence" [Hércules 2–4 Real Madrid Castilla: The white reserves bounce back and convince] (in Spanish). Goal.com. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "El Murcia, liderado por Kike García, remonta ante el Hércules" [Murcia, led by Kike García, bounces back against Hércules] (in Spanish). Marca. 6 January 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "Fran Mérida paga 100.000 euros al Hércules para irse a Brasil" [Fran Mérida pays 100,000 euros to Hércules in order to go to Brazil] (in Spanish). Diario Información. 13 February 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "Atlético-PR fecha com o meia espanhol Fran Mérida" [Atlético-PR agrees with Spanish midfielder Fran Mérida] (in Portuguese). Lance Net. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- "Furacão reage, vira sobre o Fla no Maracanã e provoca saída de Mano" [Hurricane reacts, overturns Fla at the Maracanã and causes Mano's exit] (in Portuguese). Globo. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "Fran Mérida, primer goleador español en Brasil en 50 años" [Fran Mérida, first Spanish goalscorer in Brazil for 50 years] (in Spanish). El Periódico. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "Copa do Brasil wrap: Internacional steal draw". FourFourTwo. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- Freire, Fernando (5 February 2014). "Atlético-PR marca no fim, vence nos pênaltis e avança na Libertadores" [Atlético-PR score at the end, win on penalties and advance in the Libertadores] (in Portuguese). Globo. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "Vélez Sarsfield ganó 3–1 a Paranaense y está en octavos de Libertadores" [Vélez Sarsfield win 3–1 at Paranaense and are in the last 16 of the Libertadores] (in Spanish). Radio Programas del Perú. 26 March 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "Pela porta dos fundos: afastado, trio encerra passagem pelo Atlético-PR" [Through the back door: ostracized, trio closes spell at Atlético Paranaense] (in Portuguese). Surgiu. 6 June 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- Chesters, Heath (30 January 2015). "Former Arsenal and Atlético man Fran Mérida signs for Huesca". Inside Spanish Football. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- Longás, Daniel (29 March 2015). "La SD Huesca golpea más fuerte" [SD Huesca hit harder] (in Spanish). Vavel. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
- "El Huesca sorprende al Villarreal (3–2)" [Huesca surprise Villarreal (3–2)] (in Spanish). ABC. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 18 December 2015.
- "El Huesca rescata un punto en el 93'" [Huesca rescue a point in the 93rd] (in Spanish). Marca. 3 January 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
- "Fran Mérida ficha por Osasuna" [Fran Mérida signs for Osasuna] (in Spanish). Sport. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- "La hermana de Fran Mérida también es internacional con España" [Fran Mérida's sister is also a Spanish international] (in Spanish). Diario AS. 3 March 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
- "Fran Mérida". Soccerway. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- Fran Mérida at ESPN FC
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