Napoli’s Dries Mertens is likely to consider making a move to Chelsea amid reports of Antonio Conte being an admirer of the striker.
According to a report by HLN Football, the 30-year-old Belgian forward Dries Mertens is a new addition to Conte’s wish list for this summer. The Italian tactician feels like Mertens will be the ideal new player to join Chelsea’s ranks next season. However, the management of Chelsea is not so convinced.
Mertens is expected to sign a new and improved contract with Napoli till 2021, meaning Conte will have to work fast. The Chelsea boss is known to scan the transfer market before listing out potential candidates, and is rumoured to have compiled stats and performance records of the Belgian forward.
Mertens is having a brilliant season with Napoli right now – his best campaign in his senior career – with 30 goals in all competitions and splendid performances in the Champions League. All that seems to have been convincing enough for Conte to pursue the Belgian forward.
And Mertens’ teammate Arek Milik is the one to thank for the prolific season that he has been enjoying. Mertens and the Pole have been fighting it out for the same spot in the Napoli first-team during his first three campaigns in Serie A.
There were times when the Belgian averaged just 48 minutes per appearance, despite featuring in almost every fixture. If it were not for Milik’s ligament injury in October ruling him out for three months, Mertens would have had to settle for playing second fiddle to Lorenzo Insigne again in a wide role.
He was strongly linked to Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur earlier. In fact, United were one of the top clubs vying for the forward. Jose Mourinho is on a mission to add more quality to the attack since that will also provide more scope for player rotation.
Signing Mertens would be ideal for the Old Trafford side, but right now, Chelsea might emerge as the front-runners in the race to sign him.
Conte has been looking to strengthen Chelse’a attack especially after reports of Willian’s departure. With Champions League commitments next season, Conte wants to add maybe one or two more versatile wing players. That will also ease off some pressure from Eden Hazard and Pedro.
Also, with Diego Costa’s future at Stamford Bridge mired in uncertainty, Mertens could become a shoo-in to become the focal point of the Chelsea attack next season. Based on that profile, Mertens fits the bill perfectly and, at 30, he can give his best years to the West London club.
Although Mertens is 30 years old, the rate at which he has been playing will bring in big money for Napoli’s owners, and it is very rare to get the opportunity to sell a player of his age for a high amount. Also, leaving Napoli would mean that Mertens gets to experience greater accolades at Chelsea.