Manchester United linked to £25 million Napoli attacking midfielder ahead of summer transfer window


Napoli winger Dries Mertens could be available for just £25 million this summer, because of a release clause in his contract. This has reportedly led to both Manchester United and Arsenal being alerted to the availability of the Belgian. However, Stadio San Paolo chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis has made a new contract for the attacking midfielder. Italian news source Calciomercato has reported that the representatives of Mertens and Napoli have been locked in negotiations for a while.

Mertens is contracted until the summer of 2020, leaving him with two-years left this summer, so Napoli has no reason to sell the player, unless that release clause is met, of course. Chances are there could be a deal with a new contract in the bag before the season finishes and Mertens prepares for the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer, unless he wants a new challenge after his club seemingly missed a chance to add pressure to Juventus in their bud for the Serie A title this season, the Turin club now four points clear.

The fact that no agreement has yet been reached between Mertens and Napoli means that Premier League clubs who are interested in the player could well be lucky this summer, especially with his release clause being so low and comparable players topping the £100 million mark. Napoli is said to be readying a contract offer of £3.5 million a year for the Belgian, who is 30, but could be the ideal experienced player Jose Mourinho could be looking for, despite suggesting that he is not in the market for attacking players this summer.

This season, Mertens has played a total of 3,493 minutes for his club, playing 44 times in all competitions. The Belgian has scored a total of 20 goals, assisting a further nine. For a 30-year-old, despite playing in Serie A, that is a good season. If he can play like this in the Premier League, he would be a good buy for any team, including United. Defensively, Mertens averages (per 90 minutes) 0.7 tackles, 0.2 interceptions, 0.2 clearances and 0.1 blocks – good stats for an attacking player.

In an attacking sense, Mertens averages (per 90 minutes) 3.4 shots, 1.6 key passes, and 1.1 dribbles. He is fouled 1.1 times, offside 0.6 times, dispossessed 1.5 times, and loses the ball due to bad control twice, all per 90 minutes. Mertens can play in literally any attacking position; left-wing, right-wing, number ten or even as a striker, which is the role he has predominantly played this season, so far. His strengths include through balls, holding the ball, key passes, finishing, long shots, passing and crossing – his main weakness is aerial duels.

Mertens style of play shows that he likes to dribble, cut inside, do layoffs, cross the ball and tackle. With United needing a player to play on the right-wing, a position Mertens could play in, if he was available for £25 million this summer, he would be a steal. It would give players such as Tahith Chong a bit of time to gain more experience to earn a first team appearance and fill the role, which seems to be United’s only hope to fill this position in the team with nearly every attacking player being tested, none of them holding their place in the position to a great standard.

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