Leeds United are interested in a deal to bring Dries Mertens to Elland Road in the summer transfer window.
That’s according to The Transfer Exchange Show, who claim that, with the 35-year-old looking to be edging closer to an exit from SCC Napoli at the end of his current contract on June 30, both Leeds United and Crystal Palace are keeping a very close eye on the situation of the forward ahead of a potential move this summer.
A further report by Gazzetta dello Sport (via Football Italia) revealed that the Belgium international would prefer to remain with the Serie A side, and is willing to take a €1m (£850k) pay cut from his €5m-per-year (£4.3m-per-year) salary in order to do so, however, Napoli and the striker are yet to agree terms on a new deal.
With it being reported that the signing of a new centre-forward is one of Orta’s priorities in the summer transfer window, the argument that the arrival of Mertens would be an unbelievable piece of business for the Spanish sporting director to get over the line is an easy one to make.
Indeed, despite his advancing years, the 35-year-old proved he is still capable of operating at the highest level over his 30 Serie A appearances – only 16 of which came as starts – this season, with the £4.5m-rated forward scoring 11 goals, registering one assist and creating three big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 1.5 shots, making 1.1 key passes and completing 0.6 dribbles per game.
These returns saw the £83k-per-week talent who Kristof Terreur dubbed a “goal machine” and Sam Tighe labelled an “unbelievable finisher” average an extremely impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.07, ranking him as Luciano Spalletti’s eighth-best performer in the top flight of Italian football.
Furthermore, the 104-time capped international’s record in front of goal throughout his club career speaks for itself, with the Belgian having hit the back of the net on 246 occasions, as well as providing 181 assists, over 683 appearances for the likes of FC Utrecht, PSV Eindhoven, AGOVV Apeldoorn and Napoli.
As such, while it is true that Mertens would not exactly be a signing for the long-term, it is undeniable that a player with his goalscoring prowess and experience at the highest level of the game would make an unbelievable addition to Jesse Marsch’s current attacking options at Elland Road – leading us to believe that Orta simply must do everything in his power to land the striker this summer.