Newcastle United are considering launching a bid for Napoli star Dries Mertens this summer if they get promoted to the Premier League, according to Het Nieuwsblad.
With the Magpies currently at the top of the Championship table, level on points with Brighton and six above the playoff spots, the club have a strong chance of moving back up to the top flight.
Despite not yet sealing a place in the elite division, it is believed that they are already mapping out transfer targets for the summer window.
Belgian news outlet Het Nieuwsblad reports that Newcastle could make a surprise bid for Mertens, who according to Italian paper Il Mattino, recently had a two-hour meeting with Manchester United ahead of a potential move.
The winger’s camp, though, rubbished the story, insisting that any hotel meeting was for personal reasons rather than transfer related.
It has been reported that Mertens, whose contract expires in 2018, is considering his options.
It would be a huge coup if Rafael Benitez was able to lure the Belgium international to St James’ Park, but it could prove to be difficult to get over the line.
The 29-year-old is likely to have attracted interest from many clubs due to scoring 24 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions this season.
If the likes of Manchester United enter a bidding war then Newcastle could drop to the back of the race, purely because they will not be able to offer European football to Mertens.
The winger moved from PSV to Napoli in 2013, so naturally would opt for a so-called bigger club if interest was made from the Premier League.
What Newcastle do have in their favour, though, is having a top-class manager who has coached Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli and Real Madrid.
In addition, Benitez was responsible for taking Mertens to Napoli, making the winger his first signing after joining the Italian outfit.