Chelsea could be set to make another attempt to land Belgian international Dries Mertens, who has backtracked on a contract extension at Napoli
According to a report from Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport, Dries Mertens has decided against penning a new contract at Serie A giants Napoli, handing Chelsea a chance to sign him this summer.
Chelsea had made an attempt to land the Belgian international in the January transfer window, but had seen their offer being rejected by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis. However, with Mertens, who is in the final few months of his contract, rejecting a new deal, the Blues will have another shot at landing the Belgian international.
Mertens signed for Napoli in 2013 from Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven and has grown into a pivotal player for the Partenopei. Till date, the 32-year-old forward has featured 309 times for the Italian outfit, bagging 121 goals and winning the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana in the process.
The 2019-20 season had seen Mertens take the field 29 times across all competitions, producing a return of 12 goals and 6 assists. Given the importance of the 32-year-old to the side, Napoli had offered him a new deal worth £6.3 million-a-year.
And initially, Mertens had shown a willingness to put pen to paper and extend his stay at the San Paolo. However, as per the latest report, the Belgian has backtracked on his initial decision to sign a new deal and has his hearts set on a move away from Italy.
This will come as a major boost for Chelsea, who are now poised to make another attempt to sign Mertens. The Blues are likely to lose a few members of their attacking contingent over the summer. Willian will be out of contract and has been linked with a switch to rivals Arsenal.
Olivier Giroud and Pedro too, are likely to be on their way out of Stamford Bridge, while it is hard to see Michy Batshuayi remain a Chelsea player either, given how sparingly he has been used by Frank Lampard so far this term. So, bringing in a new forward will be high on the manager’s to-d0 list heading into the summer transfer window.
Mertens may be into his thirties, but he has been in fine nick over the past couple of seasons. And the fact that he can play anywhere in the attacking third makes him a viable target for Chelsea. Moreover, considering that he will cost the club nothing in transfer fees, makes the prospect of signing the Belgian international even more attractive for the West Londoners.
The possibility of a bigger pay packet and a signing-on bonus is likely to be a factor in Mertens’ decision, given that at his age, this could be his last big transfer. It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds over the coming months.