Napoli have agreed a new three-year deal with forward Dries Mertens, who has been attracting interest from a number of clubs – most notably, Chelsea and Inter.
It appeared as though Mertens’ seven-year spell with Napoli was drawing to a close with the Belgian’s contract due to expire this summer. As a result, Europe’s elite have been circling over a player who has been one of the star performers in Serie A in recent seasons.
However, The Guardian now report that the 33-year-old has agreed a new three-year contract extension with Napoli – this is despite the fact that his current club were not able to match the salary offered to him by Inter.
I Nerazzurri recently made a move to secure Mertens’ services on a free transfer this summer, offering him a deal that would see him become one of the club’s highest-paid players.
It was even said that Mertens and Inter had agreed a deal. However, The Guardian reports that while Napoli haven’t matched the £170,00-per-week offer that was put on the table by Inter, Mertens has nevertheless agreed to stay put.
The forward will earn £140,000-per-week when his new contract comes into effect, while he will also receive a signing-on bonus of £2.2m.
This will come as a major blow for those that have shown an interest in signing the player. As well as Inter, The Guardian add that Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is a ‘huge admirer’ of Mertens and made him one of his main transfer targets this summer.
The transfer market will be impacted by the coronavirus crisis as clubs will struggle to fork out the kind of money the footballing world has become accustomed to in recent years. As a result, the purchase of a player like Mertens on a free transfer will have become even more enticing for clubs, but this will now no longer be the case.
Mertens has been a key figure for Napoli, with his highest goalscoring tally coming in the 2016/17 season. That campaign, he managed 34 goals and 12 assists in just 46 appearances in all competitions. Overall, since joining the club, Mertens has bagged 121 goals and provided a further 73 assists 311 appearances.