Chelsea continue to pursue Napoli star Dries Mertens and are ready to pounce if the Belgian international decides against renewing his contract and becomes a free agent this summer.
The 32-year-old frontman has been in Chelsea’s crosshairs for some time and they were believed to be close to a deal during the winter transfer window although nothing materialised.
Fresh light on why the Napoli star didn’t make the switch from Serie A to Stamford Bridge has been provided by the player’s agent.
CalcioNapoli24 (via Sport Witness) report that Vincenzo Morabito was a guest on Radio Marte’s program ‘Si Gonfia La Rete’ where the Italian agent explained that Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud’s on-off move during the same window caused complications.
However, Morabito also stressed that the Blues’ interest has not gone away, especially given the signals that Mertens is looking to move.
“Mertens? I believe he will not renew,” Morabito was quoted as saying.
“Chelsea really like him. He could have also gone there in January, but the fact that he didn’t go blocked our negotiation for Giroud’s exit, ” added Morabito, who was trying to sort the Frenchman out with a move to Italy.
“As far as I know Chelsea are continuing to deal with Mertens’ lawyers and it is no coincidence the Belgian has not yet renewed [his contract at Napoli].”
The scenario of Giroud out, Mertens in remains a possibility although, with Chelsea boss Frank Lampard having limited options up front, it’s not out of the question that both World Cup stars could be at Stamford Bridge next season if the ex-Arsenal striker decides to extend his stay.
Napoli are currently sixth in Serie A but a massive 24 points behind leaders Juventus and they face a major uphill task to try and secure Champions League football again next season.
Previous reports in Italy suggested that Mertens has been offered a two-year extension to remain in Naples, but is holding off amid uncertainty about the team’s ability to challenge for major honours in the future.
The forward, who can operate as a striker or winger, has scored 90 goals in 226 league appearances for Napoli and also won 90 caps for Belgium, netting 18 times.
While Chelsea have a definite interest, they’re likely to face plenty of competition and Inter Milan and Monaco could be potential rivals for his signature.