Dries Mertens has been increasingly linked to Lazio in recent weeks but a move to Rome is still incredibly unlikely for the Napoli forward.
The 35-year-old Belgian forward has had a good season under Luciano Spalletti in Naples, netting 11 goals in 30 league appearances, but with his contract expiring next month he’s now being linked with other Italian clubs, one of which is Lazio.
As reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport (via LazioNews24), Mertens is unlikely to join Lazio this summer because of a clause in his Napoli contract which would allow them to renew his deal on the same wages.
Due to both this and his serious loyalty to the club, it’s hard to imagine the 35-year-old reuniting with coach Maurizio Sarri in Rome this summer.
The 35-year-old Mertens joined Napoli in the summer of 2013 from PSV Eindhoven and he’s gone on to become a key figure at the club.
He’s made the fifth most appearances in the club’s history (397) and he’s their all-time top scorer, netting 148 goals across all competitions, 26 more than second place Lorenzo Insigne.
Whilst this news shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, it’s still a shame as I have no doubts that Mertens would have been incredible for Lazio, either playing on the wing or being used as a false nine when Ciro Immobile is being rested.
The Belgian forward absolutely shone under Sarri and it’s not hard to see why the Italian coach was keen to be reunited with him, but a free transfer to Lazio looks almost impossible at this stage, forcing the Roman club to look elsewhere.
At this stage I expect Napoli to renew his contract for at least one more year, so I suppose there’s a small chance that Lazio could look to return for him next year, but for now Sarri will have to focus on other options.