The notion of Chelsea going after Dries Mertens caught fire in January, after the transfer ban was lifted, and the club set to work on bolstering the attack. Alas, there was no movement at all during the window.
With just 6 months remaining on Mertens’ contract at the time, the transfer would have been relatively cheap, but Napoli weren’t too willing and, more pertinently, Mertens himself wanted to stay for the remainder of his contract as he was just a few goals away from becoming the all-time top scorer at Napoli. Just as Mertens equalled that record, the COVID-19 pandemic halted any further football in Italy and around the world.
We’re still not sure if and when football might return, or what might happen when contracts expire on June 30, but Corriere dello Sport report that Chelsea are planning to move swiftly to capitalize on this and make Mertens our first signing of the summer.
The report states that while Napoli are willing to offer an extension with a number of bonuses, several clubs, including Chelsea, AS Monaco, and Inter Milan have expressed interest and are making that difficult for club president Aurelio De Laurentiis. Mertens is said to be attracted by the glamour, salary, and competition that the Premier League offers, which could put Chelsea in the ascendancy for his signature.
With a 33-year-old Olivier Giroud, whose own contract is about to run out, and an unreliable Michy Batshuayi the only competition for young Tammy Abraham at the moment, Chelsea are apparently willing to make Mertens a priority.
Mertens turns 33 in less than a month as well, but he’s capable of playing anywhere across the front line, which could make him an extremely shrewd signing on a free. Talks are some way off from reaching any sort of advence stages with the pandemic and the related uncertainty, but Chelsea certainly appear to be keeping a firm eye on the situation.