Newcastle United are among the contenders to sign Dries Mertens, and are prepared to pay more than £6m per year to lure him to St James’ Park.
The Belgian forward’s Napoli contract expires in the summer, and he has not shown any intention to extend his stay with the Serie A side, after talks over a new deal stalled.
A multitude of top sides across Europe are keen on bringing Mertens in and secure one of the biggest bargains of the transfer window – with transfer fee-free deals likely to be extra coveted as the economic impact of the coronavirus takes hold.
According to FCInterNews, Newcastle are willing to offer Mertens a deal worth £6.1m a season to tempt him to Tyneside.
The Magpies appear poised to splash the cash should their £300m takeover from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund prove successful.
The takeover is edging towards completion, and Newcastle are targeting a selection of statement signings with their new transfer budget, while manager Mauricio Pochettino has been linked.
Mertens is not the only marquee free agent the club are reportedly interested in, with Chelsea’s Pedro linked on Wednesday.
However, while finances may not be an issue for the Magpies, whether the club can persuade Mertens to sign is another matter.
The report states that the 32-year-old wishes to remain in Italy, with Inter awaiting a final response from the player.
Premier League rivals Chelsea had been pursuing Mertens since January and are still in the running but have tempered their interest as they have other priorities.
The club want top scorer Tammy Abraham to renew his contract, while second choice striker Olivier Giroud still has a year left to run on his Stamford Bridge deal.
The Frenchman had seen his game time severely restricted under Frank Lampard, but had been in impressive form prior to the coronavirus outbreak, with two goals in three Premier League appearances.
FCInterNews claim that Monaco are another party interested in Mertens, with the Ligue 1 outfit prepared to match Newcastle’s offer.
Prior to the suspension of football Mertens had found the net 12 times in 29 appearances in all competitions for Napoli this season.