According to reports in Italy this afternoon, Napoli striker Dries Mertens could make the move to the Chinese Super League at the end of the season, if Maurizio Sarri departs the club.
Mertens, a 30-year-old Belgian international, established himself as one of European football’s most lethal strikers last season.
Since having been moved into a centre-forward role by Partenopei boss Maurizio Sarri after an injury to Arkadiusz Milik at the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign, Mertens has made the position very much his own, racking up a hugely impressive 28 goals and 9 assists in Serie A last season, as he missed out on the division’s top scorer award to Edin Dzeko by just a solitary strike.
Though he has not been quite as prolific to this point in the current campaign, Mertens has nevertheless manged to notch 20 goals and 9 assists across all competitions.
On the move?
As expected, Mertens’ stellar form at the Stadio San Paolo over the last couple of seasons has led to links between the former PSV star and some of European football’s biggest clubs.
The Belgian’s contract in Naples is set to expire in 2020, with Napoli having reportedly been left frustrated by their attempts to extend his deal to this point.
The contract impasse between the parties has since led both Manchester United and Arsenal to express an interest in activating Mertens’ 28 million Euro release clause (according to Calciomercato), but, as per further updates stemming from Italy this afternoon, the experienced attacker could in fact be set for a move to China at the end of the season.
Mertens is said to be ‘tempted’ by the riches on offer in the Chinese Super League, with IAmNaples claiming that, if manager Maurizio Sarri, who has been heavily linked with Chelsea, does in fact depart the San Paolo this summer, that Mertens may follow suit, with China his most likely destination.