Juventus have reportedly joined Manchester United in the race to sign Dries Mertens from Napoli in the summer
Italian publication Calciomercato have reported that Juventus are interested in signing Dries Mertens in the summer and have made enquiries about his availability. Manchester United are also keen on landing the Napoli forward.
Mertens has enjoyed a sensational campaign with Napoli in 2016/17 despite being deployed in an unfamiliar role as the side’s centre forward by Maurizio Sarri. However, he has been a revelation in the new position, taking to it with much elan.
Peak of his Career pic.twitter.com/B3dHXKq5Bt
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So much so, that the current campaign has proven to be the most fruitful in his senior career. Mertens has 42 appearances across all competitions, finding the back of the net 28 times while providing 12 assists as well – thus making nearly one direct contribution per match.
His scoring rate of 101 minutes per goal is also the best in Serie A, and he is vying alongside the best in the Italian top flight to become the Capocannoniere this season. Such an incredible record has prompted some of the best clubs across Europe to turn their attentions towards Mertens.
Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have been heavily linked with a move for the Belgian international, but Manchester United are believed to be leading the race to sign him. The Red Devils, though, have now been joined by Juventus in pursuit of Mertens.
Jose Mourinho’s options in attack have been reduced to a bare minimum in recent weeks due to the injuries suffered by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata. While Mata will be back in action soon and is likely to play a part next season as well, it is the Swede’s absence that is already starting to hurt.
Captain Wayne Rooney has been underperforming all through the season and is likely to leave at the end of the season while Anthony Martial has been inconsistent and Jesse Lingard is more or less a squad player.
That leaves the Manchester United boss with just Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford as his recognised options in attack and a side that is severely lacking in goals. That is where Mertens comes in, a player with a proven prolific record and who can add a lot of value to Mourinho’s squad.
Juventus, meanwhile, are eyeing him as the perfect reinforcement to play in their 4-2-3-1 formation, with his versatility making him a viable option for every position from the trequartista up. And while goalscoring hasn’t been a problem for Juventus, some more certainly do not hurt.
Additionally, an attacking combination involving Mertens, Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain will become one of the most fearsome ones in Europe. However, Napoli are unwilling to let Mertens join a direct rival in Serie A, having learnt from the mistakes of selling Higuain last summer.
That surely hands Manchester United the advantage in the race to sign Mertens, and it remains to be seen if Juventus can do anything to tempt Napoli into selling another one of their players to them in the summer. In all likelihood though, a summer exit from San Paolo looms large for Mertens.