Leeds United are currently stepping up their summer transfer dealings with two additions already in the bag and a third on its way in the form of Bayern Munich man Marc Roca, with manager Jesse Marsch plotting a much needed revamp to a squad that only staved off relegation by the skin of their teeth in the most recent campaign.
Those arrivals alone, however, will seemingly not be enough to spark a drastic improvement next term, with the Yorkshire side in need of a sprinkling of true quality to try and fire them away from danger.
One man who has been earmarked as a potential statement, marquee acquisition is Belgium veteran Dries Mertens, with the 35-year-old having been tipped to make the move to Elland Road this summer.
Not only are the Whites believed to be in the running for his signature, but they are also likely to be able to prise him for nothing, with it looking as if the forward won’t be handed a new deal despite his existing contract nearing its expiry.
Some may question the wisdom in plucking an ageing talent who would be nothing more than a short-term fix, although the £137k-per-week “goal machine” – as he has been dubbed by Kristof Terreur – still appears to have plenty left in the tank.
In the 2021/22 season, the diminutive marksman chipped in with 11 goals and one assist for the Serie A side, taking his total tally to a staggering 148 goals and 90 assists in 397 games for the Italian side since joining from PSV Eindhoven in 2013.
Any doubters need also only look to his overall record throughout his club career, as his total haul now stands at 246 goals and 181 assists in 683 games across his spells in Naples and Holland – where he also featured for FC Utrecht and AGOVV Apeldoorn.
Throw in his wealth of experience at international level – with 21 goals in 104 games – and it is clear to see that Leeds would be gaining a proven, top-class asset were he to make the switch this summer, with the “lethal” ace – as he has been described by one journalist – a seemingly risk-free addition.
His arrival could also prove something of a masterstroke in a similar vein to that of club icon Pablo Hernandez, the Spaniard having enjoyed a stunning four-and-a-half-year stint at the club after joining from Swansea City in 2017.
Like Mertens, the former Valencia man may have been small in stature but he proved a colossus in terms of his impact on the pitch, proving vital in ending the club’s 16-year absence from the top-flight with promotion in 2020.
The four-cap international had impressed prior to Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival at the club, although became something of a talisman once the Argentine visionary took charge in 2018, netting 12 times and providing 12 assists during the 2018/19 campaign, before adding a further nine goals and nine assists the following season.
That latter, title-winning campaign saw “El Mago” produce arguably his most memorable moment in a Leeds shirt, netting a crucial, last-gasp winner against his former club Swansea to all but confirm a return to the Premier League.
Having been 35 at the time, he would go on to be restricted to a bit-part role the following year in the top tier – making just three league starts – although departed in the summer of 2021 with his club legend status still intact.
His departure has left something of a playmaking, goalscoring void that still perhaps needs to be filled, however, with fellow veteran Mertens potentially man to take his crown.