The Belgian media are very fond of their national team players and usually talk them up at any opportunity. It’s a Golden Age for Belgian talent and there’s widespread coverage and enthusiasm in the country’s media about their best footballers spread out around Europe and beyond.
Therefore, it seems quite odd that Het Nieuwsblad and others in Belgium are today talking down the level of club Dries Mertens could get in England. The Napoli player is said to be stalling on a renewal and with his contract ending in June 2018, a summer exit could be possible.
The 29 year old attacker has been in excellent form for Napoli this season but Het Nieuwsblad believes the player’s age would see his choices limited. Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United are put forward as a possible destination, as long as they achieve promotion to the Premier League.
With all due respect to Newcastle, a grand club, Mertens has been one of the best players in Serie A this season and if Benitez could pull a transfer like this off then it would send the Geordie faithful into raptures.
Mertens has scored 24 goals so far this season, 19 in Serie A and 5 in the Champions League. He’s scored 4 goals in his last three matches, and that isn’t even close to his best patch this season. In the space of 4 December matches Mertens picked up 9 goals, an assist, and three Man of the Match awards.
This would be the kind of signing that would see Newcastle United fans pack themselves outside St James Park to welcome Mertens as a superhero, with Benitez grinning madly beside him.
Unfortunately, the Belgian claims are likely to be wide of the mark. Newcastle United surely wouldn’t stand much of a chance in this race.