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Dries Mertens: A profile on the Napoli and Belgium forward

Dries Mertens

Initially rejected due to his stature, Dries Mertens went on to score goals. A lot of goals. And now his specialities are required once again. This time in London. According to Di Marzio, Chelsea have now entered talks with the Belgian’s representatives, hoping to get a move over the line before the end of the January transfer window. But who exactly is Napoli’s dynamic forward?

A brief background

Born in the Flemish city of Leuven, it wasn’t until he was 20-years-old that he finally began to hit his stride. Whilst still incredibly young, you wouldn’t have thought the AGOVV Apeldoorn forward would get to where he is now.

Dries Mertens in action for Napoli

It was when PSV took a chance on the small Belgian that he gained notoriety around Europe. A staggering 16 goals and 17 assists in just 29 Eredivisie games, figures like that get you in the door anywhere. After beating away offers from everywhere, he joined Napoli in June 2013. The rest is history.

Dries Mertens – Style of Play

At 5ft 7in, you’d have thought that Dries Mertens would use his slight frame to manoeuvre through defenders. This is incorrect. Averaging only 0.7 dribbles per game this season (WhoScored), Mertens prefers to be on the end of through balls and crosses. This could benefit Mason Mount, who enjoys freedom and creativity in the final third.

Capable of playing out on the left-wing or as a lone centre-forward, Mertens’ versatility in the final third would allow Lampard the opportunity to work him in around his current players, including Tammy Abraham. Also, against the typical low-block, Mertens’ position on the left would allow him space to cut inside and fire off a shot/pick out a teammate.

Mertens is by no means slow, but the gradual reduction in his pace has actually benefitted him greatly; it has allowed him to develop his playmaking attributes. To further this, Mertens has now been averaging two key passes per game in the past two seasons, culminating in 13 assists in 33 Serie A starts, alongside his goalscoring prowess of course.

A good signing?

On paper, Dries Mertens is the perfect signing for Chelsea. His natural assimilation to free-flowing football means he can fit seamlessly into Frank Lampard’s system. The main problem, of course, is the age. At 32-years-old, Mertens has perhaps got one season left in his prime.

Nevertheless, for a seriously reduced fee, maybe the higher-ups at Chelsea feel that this is a risk worth taking, especially for the prize of Champions League football.

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