New Villa boss Unai Emery is already plotting how to strengthen his squad at Villa Park and the Premier League side are being linked with several options in La Liga.
Emery knows La Liga well and has his sights on a number of targets, including Real Sociedad midfielder Merino.
Aston Villa are keen on the 26-year-old, but Real Sociedad do not want to lose him.
The Spanish side have been planning to sit down with Merino at the end of the season to speak about a new contract; his current deal runs until 2025 and has a €65m release clause.
However, according to Seville-based daily Estadio Deportivo, Aston Villa’s interest may force Real Sociedad to accelerate the talks.
They could look to try to lock Merino down on a new deal soon in order to ward off Emery’s men.
No signings or departures in the January transfer window are currently envisaged by Real Sociedad, but the situation could change.
Merino is no stranger to the Premier League and had a spell at Newcastle United between 2017 and 2018.