ADL: ‘Goodbye Mertens, Napoli have to say no’

Dries Mertens will leave Napoli as a free agent, as President Aurelio De Laurentiis explained the situation. ‘We thank him for everything he did here, but when it’s cold hard cash, we have to say no.’

The striker is the club’s all-time top scorer who has been at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona since 2013, scoring 148 goals in 397 competitive matches for the Partenopei.

His contract expired on June 30 and there had until today been some hope of negotiating a new deal with a reduced salary, but these comments suggest the door has now been shut.

“I feel the love for the club, but I must never forget that football is also an industry as well as pure passion,” De Laurentiis told Radio Kiss Kiss.

“Unfortunately, that means sometimes going against what the fans want. When a supporter tells me, why don’t you keep Mertens, I can only reply that Mertens offered himself to us for another year, because he knows that he’s 35 and then has to retire.

“If he makes it a matter of cold, hard cash too, then I have to say no. If I have to pay a disproportionate salary to Mertens, that would take money away from the budget of next season, when it will be needed to sign younger players.”

So does that mean Napoli have said goodbye to Mertens, after Lorenzo Insigne, David Ospina and Kalidou Koulibaly?

“Yes, I offered him €4m per season gross and he refused. So I said thank you very much to you, your son Ciro, your wife, for everything you’ve done here and the extraordinary goals scored, but we cannot go beyond our capabilities.

“I need to have money to buy young players who can represent Napoli in future seasons. When we changed all the older players to bring in those like Mertens and Koulibaly, the fans were doubtful, but they became champions here.”

Mertens had been on a salary of €4.5m per season net when the contract expired on June 30.

As De Laurentiis confirmed to a fan this week, he had initially offered the veteran a wage of €1.8m per season net, which would’ve been a huge cut.

He increased that to €1.8m and then eventually €2.4m, but that too was rejected.

4 Comments on “ADL: ‘Goodbye Mertens, Napoli have to say no’”

  1. I think this is fair
    At 35, you definitely have to take a pay cut because you may not be able to play as many games as before, players like Ibra and Ronaldo are on another level and I don’t think there will be another club willing to match that

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