DRIES MERTENS is a Belgian footballer currently playing for Napoli in Italy, the club he joined in 2013.
It was revealed this week that Arsenal was actively pursuing the signature of Dries Mertens in the summer, that didn’t happen, the player extended his contract with Napoli instead with a £30m buy-out clause.
ESPN is now reporting that Arsenal is still very much interested in DRIES MERTENS and are actively monitoring his situation. The sun reported that it was the player that turned down the opportunity to play for Arsenal in the summer but that Wenger is not giving up, while Dailly cannon believes he is available in January for £27m despite the buy-out clause.
Arsenal squad situation is not a secret, with the impending departure of Alexis Sanchez possibly in January, and the high price demand on Thomas Lemar who may not be available in January, coupled with the news that Giroud is concerned about his playing time and desire to secure regular football for the sake of his international career, Arsenal need for a new striker to support Alexandre Lacazette and Danny Welbeck suddenly become acute and crucial.
So, it is not a surprise that Arsenal is being linked to yet another new name.
So we decided to have a quick look at his career so far.
DRIES MERTENS was born on 6th May 1987 in Leuven, Belgium, so he is 30 years old.
He was bought by the then Napoli manager, Rafael Benitez from PSV for £7m at the start of the 2013/2014 season becoming Benitez first signing.
His career did not take off as expected, he had a very average contribution in his first season scoring 11 goals in 33 league appearances.
The following two seasons were each poorer, netting 6 and 5 goals in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons respectively.
DRIES MERTENS CAREER AT NAPOLI
DRIES MERTENS career took off in the 2016/17 season where he netted 28 times in 35 league appearances to finish one goal behind former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko of AS ROMA as the second highest goalscorer in Serie A.
SERIE A TOP SCORER CHART 2016/17 SEASON
He has scored 6 goals in 6 games so far this season, same as Aguero, Lukaku and Morata in the Premier League.
While he has started really well this season and excelled last season, taking his average over his entire Napoli career into account, his return of 56 goals in 138 league appearances translates to 40% return.
He is 30 years old meaning he blossomed late, a similar tales to Lucas Perez who Arsenal signed on the back of one good season but was not given enough playing time and chance to replicate it or he failed to nail a starting place down, whichever way you look at it, it did not turn out well.
Before moving to Napoli, he played for PSV in the Dutch League for two seasons, he was a hit in his first season where he netted 21 times in 33 League appearances but dropped the following season to 16 goals, so his 2016/17 with Napoli represent his best return in front of Goal.
He was already 29 years then, he is 30 now, by the turn of next summer, he will be 31 years.
DRIES MERTENS COMPARED TO GIROUD
Arsenal pursuit of DRIES MERTENS seems like an exercise in futility. Arsenal has been here before.
Wenger attempted buying Jamie Vardy at the beginning of the 2016/2017 season on the back of his goalscoring season that helped Leicester to the title, that deal did not happen for reasons best known to the club. However, depending on who you believe. It was reported Jamie Vardy failed medical because of his dependence on Nicotine, while some reports said Vardy turned the deal down, In any case, Vardy went on to have a poor campaign the following season.
Wenger failure to land Vardy pushed him to Lucas Perez, who had a good season with Deportivo but had almost zero contribution to Arsenal campaign bar some flashes of brilliance.
The current transfer market with astronomical inflation prices and Arsenal stringent spending policy meant Arsenal will compromise on quality ultimately, which means buying players that have been tested and ready to go at the right age may be out of Arsenal reach.
Wenger well-known policy of not giving a long-term contract to players beyond their 28th birthday has long been put in the bin, however, buying players in their 30s is a new low but that may be the compromise Wenger would have to make to have a reasonably good player.
MERTENS VS GIROUD:
Olivier Giroud is looking for a way out of Arsenal due to inadequate playing time, the World Cup in Russia is fast approaching and he needs a regular club game to guarantee his place in the French squad, Everton is rumoured to be very keen, they failed to land him in the summer but may return with a £40m bid in January.
Career stat of Mertens and Giroud suggests they have had cumulatively similar numbers, and as such, MERTENS from the point of view of Arsenal is not an upgrade to Giroud nor a replacement for Alexis Sanchez.
Selling Giroud to buy Mertens is more of a like for like, but if Mertens can replicate his last season form for Arsenal he will be a bargain.