The Partenopei supporters have never had a great relationship with De Laurentiis, but that situation is deteriorating rapidly over the last few months with news he is slashing the wage bill and perhaps lowering their ambitions too.
Lorenzo Insigne was not really offered a new deal, so he has signed for Toronto FC, while Mertens announced last night that he had wanted to remain, but nobody called to discuss an extension, despite having an option on the current contract.
He too will be a free agent after June 30 and the fans are furious, with the hashtag #IoStoConMertens – I Stand With Mertens – trending in Italy on Twitter.
“Mertens did not deserve this treatment,” wrote one fan. “Sadly, we all know how this will end, but not many can accept it. This hurts. His story cannot end like this.”
Others are promising if De Laurentiis continues his purge of top stars, which could also include Kalidou Koulibaly and Fabian Ruiz to cut costs, he’ll “find himself with an empty stadium and zero season ticket sales.”
Mertens has become so firmly embedded in Neapolitan culture that he earned the nickname Ciro – the most Neapolitan of names – and then named his son Ciro as well.
“I don’t know how the story will end, I just know that in any case in 50 years we’ll still be talking about a Belgian Scugnizzo (Neapolitan street kid) who fell in love with Naples and I like many other Neapolitans love him deeply,” wrote one fan.
There are differing versions in the media of what was on offer and what Mertens requested.
La storia di #Napoli non si tocca, #Mertens vuole solo Napoli e i partenopei vogliono solo lui. Ci potete provare in ogni modo, ma non riuscirete mai a mettere #Dries contro Napoli. #iostoconmertens pic.twitter.com/BFnMdFuG4E
— Quelladelweb (@quelladelweb) June 6, 2022