Manchester United have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Napoli forward Dries Mertens, after his release clause expired last Friday.
Corriere Del Mezzogiorno reports that the bargain €28m exit clause in Mertens’ Napoli deal is no longer valid, meaning any interested parties will have to pay much more for his services.
The 31-year-old forward scored a spectacular goal for Belgium in their World Cup clash with Panama yesterday, which will have reminded Europe’s footballing giants of his ability.
Manchester United have been linked with the former PSV man, whilst Schalke and two Chinese clubs reportedly tried to trigger the release clause.
If Jose Mourinho is still interested in Mertens, who can play as either a centre-forward or a winger, then he will now have to pay closer to €60m.
Mertens is under contract at Napoli until 2020, but the club are set to enter negotiations after the World Cup for an extension until 2023.
He scored 18 league goals in Napoli’s push for the Serie A title last season, featuring in every game as they ultimately came 2nd to Juventus.
Mertens recently hinted that he would be staying in Naples, having settled there with his family.