Arsenal have reportedly expressed an interest to sign Napoli’s veteran forward Dries Mertens, who is expected to depart Naples this month.
According to Sky Sports, as relayed by Calciomercato, a departure from Napoli could be on the cards for Dries Mertens. The experienced forward is seeking a new adventure, thus putting Arsenal on red alert. His current contract at the club expires at the end of next season.
Mertens was heavily linked with a move to the Emirates last year as well, with the Gunners hoping to sign him for a cut-price fee due to a then-expiring contract. The forward ended up remaining at Napoli and even extended his contract in the summer until 2022, though at the age of 33, the player has lost his valuation regardless of his performance and an existing contract.
Nevertheless, Mertens’s decision to prolong his stay at Napoli was a wise one, as the Belgian became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer – overtaking the legendary Diego Maradona. He has been rather unfortunate in the ongoing season, though, with his campaign being marred by an ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines for a handful of matches.
Yet, the former PSV Eindhoven star has been involved in eight goals in just 13 appearances. Overall, the striker has been involved in over 200 goals in 343 competitive games for Napoli. His astounding record in the offensive department, thus, makes him a sought-after player in Italy, despite being in the twilight of his career.
Mertens could be a particularly interesting option for Arsenal as the Gunners have had their fair share of difficulties finding the back of the net this season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, in particular, has struggled with a lack of form and has also been shifted into a left wing role by Mikel Arteta. It leaves Eddie Nketiah as the only alternative for the in-form Alexandre Lacazette and that is where Mertens could be useful.
The Napoli forward brings a lot of experience to the table, having won almost 100 caps for the Belgian national team in addition to making 249 appearances in Serie A. He has a tremendous scoring record, as mentioned earlier, which is combined with a versatility that allows him to feature even in wider positions.
The ageing Mertens could also be a cost-effective option in the market, which bodes well for Arsenal, who have struggled financially amid the economic crisis inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. It now remains to be seen if a move for Mertens can be completed anytime soon.