Chelsea are reportedly weighing up a summer move for Dries Mertenes, who has been suggested as a target by the “soon-to-be-appointed” Maurizio Sarri
According to a report by Daily Telegraph, Maurizio Sarri, who looks set to be the next Chelsea manager has asked the Blues to sign Dries Mertens from Napoli. The Belgian international was also a target for Antonio Conte, who failed to convince the West Londoners to sign him for last two summer transfer windows.
Mertens enjoyed a stunning turnaround in his productivity under the tutelage of Sarri, who was inspired in the player’s transformation into a prolific striker from a mercurial winger. The last two seasons have been, by far, the best and most fruitful in his career, with the Belgian forward finishing each campaign as the club’s top scorer.
His return over the last two seasons is nothing short of impressive, with Mertens directly contributing to 83 goals in 94 appearances, missing just four games during this period. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the 31-year-old has been a highly sought-after player in the transfer market for well over a year, with Chelsea in particular, holding a long-standing interest in him.
Current Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who has closely observed Mertens from his time in Italy, was eager to sign him when he was appointed at the helm in 2014. He then tried convincing the club board to make a move for him last summer, but failed to do so once again before the player penned a new deal with Napoli.
While Conte now looks highly likely to depart from Stamford Bridge, it is his reported replacement Maurizio Sarri’s turn to try and persuade the Chelsea board to bankroll a move for Mertens, who could potentially be a solid addition to the first-team squad.
The Blues are in a spot of bother over the future of Willian, who has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United. With Pedro’s Chelsea future uncertain as well, the need to bolster attack is urgent, with Mertens a possible solution on the right side of attack, where he will be able to link up with international teammate Eden Hazard.
His exploits over the last couple of seasons also make him a possible option as the focal point of attack, potentially making him an attractive short-term solution. However, the Chelsea board are uncertain about signing the marksman, having deemed him too old and expensive last summer.
With his £24.5 million release clause expiring, it is uncertain how much it will cost to secure his services. Chelsea are, thus, more interested in targeting younger options, although Sarri will be trying his utmost to land Mertens.
Napoli, on the other hand, are reportedly looking to tie him down to a new deal once again in order to ward off suitors, or possible increase his transfer valuation. It now remains to be seen if Sarri is able to convince the Chelsea board to sign Mertens and kick-start their transfer spending for the summer.