For someone who has scored 24 goals in 35 games this season, the potential destinations touted by the Belgian media for Napoli’s Dries Mertens are rather surprising.
On Wednesday, Het Nieuwsblad claimed that a move to the Premier League could certainly be on the cards for the forward, but his potential landing spots would only be clubs like West Ham, Crystal Palace or even likely-to-be-promoted Newcastle.
We covered the reports, and the news of a potential departure has made its way to Italy, with Gazzetta dello Sport claiming Napoli have one month to sort out a new contract for the 29-year-old or he could leave for Manchester.
Yes, it seems the Italian media have loftier ambitions for one of the best players in Serie A this season, and the pink newspaper claim both Manchester United and Manchester City ‘are ready to negotiate the purchase of Napoli’s top scorer’.
China have also expressed an interest in signing the Belgium international in the past, but you would think a move to Old Trafford or the Etihad in order to play under either José Mourinho or Pep Guardiola would be a more attractive move at this stage in his career.
With a contract running out in June 2018, this summer is make or break for Napoli if they want to keep their goalscoring revelation beyond next season, when he would be available on a free as early as January.
Gazzetta claim Aurelio de Laurentiis, Napoli’s owner, is ready to address the situation as soon as possible, willing to offer Mertens a new contract with a €50m release clause only able of being triggered by foreign clubs in order to avoid last summer’s annoyance of Higuain’s departure to Juventus.
Mertens would have to agree to such terms, of course, but considering he turns 30 in just a few months, expecting clubs, even those as rich as Manchester United or Manchester City, to spend €50m on him might be a bit of a push when he only has one great goalscoring season under his belt.
That both Manchester clubs are interested isn’t exactly a surprise, considering Mertens would fit in either side, but we cannot see either spending such a sum on him this summer.
If he wants to move, it’s in his best interest to hold off signing Napoli’s incoming contract renewal offer.