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Napoli cannot let Mertens leave - Maradona

Omnisport
NEWS
News
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 00:51 IST
Dries Mertens - cropped
Napoli forward Dries Mertens

Diego Maradona congratulated Dries Mertens for overtaking him on Napoli's list of all-time leading scorers and urged his former club to do all they can to keep hold of the Belgium forward.

Mertens scored twice in Wednesday's 3-2 Champions League win over Salzburg to move onto 116 goals for the Serie A club, one more than Argentine great Maradona.

The 32-year-old is now second only to Marek Hamsik (121) among Napoli's leading scorers, but is out of contract at the end of the season and recently talked up a lucrative move to China.

However, Maradona warned Mertens to think twice before leaving the Italian club, where he has spent the past seven seasons.

"For me, it wasn't a disappointment that he surpassed my tally," Maradona told Corriere dello Sport. "In fact, I applauded Mertens. When he scored, I thought about Napoli and certainly not myself.

"Mertens was born to be a striker, but he didn't know. All his goals couldn't be scored by someone who isn't a striker at heart.

"I'd like to do something so that Mertens doesn't leave.

"It's right and sacrosanct for a professional to always look for a better salary, but it's also true that in no other corner of the world would he feel loved, respected, pampered and important like he does in Naples.

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"Therefore, dear president, don't let him get away. He's over 30 years old, I know, but he runs, plays and scores goals with the freshness and enthusiasm of a young lad."

Maradona is now in charge of Argentine club Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata and would gladly welcome Mertens if the former PSV attacker is after a new challenge.

"If he really should leave, Mertens should know that in La Plata, there will always be a place for him at my Gimnasia," he said.

Published 25 Oct 2019, 17:34 IST
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