Chelsea have been handed a boost after a frontman they were heavily linked with in January is set to be available for free in the summer, according to Italian reports.
A host of names were mentioned with the focus seemingly centring on the attacking areas.
The 33-year-old’s contract expires in the summer, and with the men from Naples languishing in mid-table medicority in the current campaign, thoughts abounded that the club may sanction a sale rather than risk losing the player for free in six months’ time.
The move never materialised, however, with the player and his club showing little more than fleeting interest in entertaining any offers.
With just three goals needed to overtake Marek Hamsik (121) to become the club’s all-time leading scorer, one line of thinking is that Mertens will depart once achieving the feat.
Italian newspaper Corrieri dello Sport (via Sport Witness) reveal that the star has been offered a two-year extension to remain in Naples, but Mertens is holding off amid uncertainty about the team’s ability to challenge for major honours in the future.
Fellow Italian publication Corriere del Mezzogiorno go one step further, declaring that he will ‘probably separate’ from the Serie A side in the summer window.
Chelsea are described as being ‘there‘ regarding Mertens’ availability, but are set to face stiff competition from Monaco and Inter Milan in the race to secure the Belgian’s signature.
The layer’s agent – Joao Santos – left the door ajar to a potential exit from Stamford Bridge and addressed the possibility of his client returning to Italy to link up with former boss Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.