Reports: Manchester United and Chelsea to battle it out for Dries Mertens
Napoli striker being targeted by Manchester United and Chelsea.
What’s the story?
Manchester United, along with Premier League rivals Chelsea, are willing to sign Napoli striker Dries Mertens in the next transfer window. United are willing to pay £4.3m a year in wages for the move to happen next season, according to Belgium daily Het Laatste Nieuws.
However, the 30-year-old hasn’t commented about his future and Napoli’s president Aurelio De Laurentiis is confident that the striker won’t leave the club next season.
“With Mertens, we are there. The signing will come shortly, next week his agents will arrive and define the things that we have said,” he said on Wednesday.
In case you didn’t know…
The Belgian striker joined Napoli from PSV in 2013 for € 9.48 million. He has scored 30 goals and assisted another 13 in 43 appearances for his club this season. Both the Red Devils and the Blues are impressed by the performances of the Belgian striker this season which has also attracted other European clubs like West Ham United and Inter Milan.
The heart of the matter
Jose Mourinho wants to build a team which can compete for the league title next year, and is ready to splash £200m in the next transfer market. As Zlatan is out for extended period due to the ligament injury that he suffered against Anderlecht in the Europa League, United are keen on replacing him with the Belgian striker.
Apart from Mertens, the Red Devils are targeting Alvaro Morata, Antoine Griezmann and Romelu Lukaku.
Chelsea’s striker Diego Costa is also set to move and the Blues’ boss Antonio Conte wants to replace him by bringing the former PSV star to Stamford Bridge next season. The Napoli striker is Conte’s main target ahead of next season as he can rotate with Eden Hazard on the wing as well.
Meanwhile, Laurentiis claimed that the 30-year-old would sign a new deal with his club by next week.
If United fail to qualify for the Champions League then it might hinder their move for the Belgian striker. Also, Chelsea will try to hijack the deal as they seek to build a strong squad for the Champions League next season.
United, with their financial muscle, can sign some of the biggest names in the summer transfer window, therefore, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the link with Mertens is nothing but a rumour. For Chelsea, the Belgian will help in improving their squad depth as they return to Europe next season.