Dries Mertens, the nouveau Napoli legend, seems destined to leave the Partenopei after an incredibly productive nine-year run at the former Stadio San Paolo that saw the Belgian score nearly 150 goals for Roma's southern rivals. With his contract set to expire at the end of this month and with no renewal on the horizon, Mertens, despite his advanced age, should attract plenty of suitors in Serie A and abroad. And according to one Italian paper, AS Roma could jump the queue for the Leuven native.
The Gazzetta dello Sport kicked off their Saturday edition with an exciting transfer nugget for Roma fans: Dries Mertens could sign a one-year deal with the Giallorossi. According to the Gazzetta, Roma will face competition from Lazio—where Mertens’ former manager Maurizio Sarri runs the show—while Mertens’ current club, Napoli, remains in the mix.
The GdS claims that Roma is preparing a one-year, incentive-laden deal for the 35-year-old forward, one that would pay him a reported €2.6 million base salary with a further €1.4 million in bonuses. While the exact figures are impossible to pin down at this moment, if nothing else, the Gazzetta believes Mertens will net at least €3.5 million from Roma if this move comes to pass.
While he isn't exactly a spring chicken, Mertens still bagged 11 goals in 30 league appearances last year and seems to fit Tiago Pinto and José Mourinho's preferred transfer profile: plug and play veterans. Given his wealth of experience and a reasonably clean bill of health (he's averaged 17 league starts over the past three years), Mourinho can drop Mertens right into his opening day lineup without skipping a beat.
Mertens won't do much for the club's long-term ambitions, but as a short-term shot in the arm (something along the lines of a one-year deal with an option for a second), he can help lighten the load on Tammy Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini in the attack. And given that he only has a few years left as a top-flight footballer, he won't limit the development of any of Roma's up-and-coming forward/wingers.
We don't often see players jump directly from Napoli to Roma (or vice-versa), so this rumor may still feel a bit far-fetched, but the Gazzetta is right about one thing: Mertens can help Roma right now. And for a team looking to take the next step under The Special One, that may be exactly what they're looking for