Dries Mertens has explained why he wanted to stay at Napoli after extending his deal there to end Chelsea’s hopes of signing him.
Frank Lampard was reportedly keen on adding Mertens to his attack next year. The Belgian forward was due to be out of contract at the end of June, so would have been an exciting prospect on a free transfer.
Not showing any signs of decline despite his increasing age, Mertens appealed to Chelsea as a good value target. However, he will not be on his way to Stamford Bridge, as he has ended months of speculation by signing a new deal at Napoli.
Reports emerged last month that Mertens was close to agreeing a new deal, and confirmation came on Wednesday.
Mertens’ contract now runs until 2022, and the 32-year-old – who became Napoli’s all-time record scorer last week when he scored for them in the Coppa Italia – has now explained why he wasn’t thinking of going anywhere else.
“Napoli, I actually still can’t believe it. From the first day I arrived, you embraced me,” said Mertens.
“You taught me so many wonderful things and introduced me to so many beautiful people. You were ‘home’ for me and my family straight away.
“The least I could do to repay you in this beautiful blue shirt was to score goals. A lot of goals. So many goals!
“People who aren’t in love with Napoli have simply never seen it as I have. And the people who are in love know this love is eternal.
“I’ll give you my all until the very last day, to stay in the history of this club and city as the all-time top scorer.
“Me, all-time top scorer – who would have thought that when I signed for Napoli? But it’s not over yet. Out story continues. I salute you!”