According to reports in the Belgian press, via the Daily Star, West Ham United and Newcastle United are among the teams being linked with an audacious move for Napoli forward Dries Mertens this summer.
The 29-year-old has been one of the top players in Europe this season, but with his contract due to run out in the summer of 2018, rumours suggest that he might seek a move to the Premier League rather than extending his stay with the Italian giants.
That news is said to have alerted both the Hammers and the Magpies, although it would obviously rely on the latter gaining promotion back to the top flight.
After losing the unsettled Dimitri Payet during the January transfer window, Slaven Bilic is missing that attacking spark, while Rafa Benitez will want to ensure his team isn’t fighting relegation if they do make an instant return to the Premier League.
The Spaniard might hold a slight advantage too – Mertens was his first signing when he took over as Napoli manager in 2013, and the Belgium international has been one of their key men ever since.
Playing as a forward rather than an out-and-out striker, the Belgian’s stats from this season are incredible.
He has scored 24 goals in all competitions, but we are going to concentrate on his stats in Serie A.
There he has shown his goalscoring prowess by scoring 19 times from 80 efforts on goal in just 25 outings, while he has also provided four assists and 32 key passes for his teammates.
As well as his contribution in that respect, Mertens has also shown how effectively he runs at defenders by successfully completing 53 take-ons, while he has won 41 fouls too.
In the mould of his international compatriot Eden Hazard, the 29-year-old seems ready-made for the Premier League, and he could emulate the impact former teammate Manolo Gabbiadini has made at Southampton.
The Italian attacker moved to St Mary’s from Napoli during the January transfer window, and he has scored six goals in his first four matches for the Saints, including two in the EFL Cup final.
Mertens has proved that he is capable of reproducing that sort of form, and if he did he could go on to become one of the Premier League’s best.