Ross Barkley has undoubtedly been impressive this season contributing in both goals and assists and the centre-forward role has really suited him with Romelu Lukaku above him to finish off the chances. But, it is no hidden fact that Ronald Koeman doesn’t have any options in the attacking midfield, and whatever options in the midfielder he has, are mostly defence minded.
Hence, it is not surprising that Napoli midfielder Dries Mertens has been topping Koeman’s winter shopping list. The Belgium star is rated at £12m and Everton won’t have many problems landing him at Goodison Park. However, what will matter most is fading off competitions from other clubs.
Reportedly, big clubs like Bayern Munich and Ajax have also shown interest in the 29-year-old midfielder and even Jose Mourinho was interested in him during his Chelsea days. As per SDailystar, Premier League clubs like Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are also understood to be keen on landing him. In fact, Liverpool’s interest in Mertens must be of concern to Koeman, given the quality of the midfielder.
Mertens has scored 15 goals this season, creating 19 chances and two assists. He has also completed 260 passes this season with a pass accuracy of 76%, of which 63% were forward passes. His knack for going forward enables him to play as a makeshift striker as and when needed. He seems like the extra push Koeman needs from his midfield to get more services to Lukaku.
The right-footed midfielder has brilliant shooting prowess. Whether it is long range shots, taking direct or indirect set pieces, or dribbling past opponents and chipping in delicious crosses into the penalty box, Mertens excels in all.
In his four Champions League appearances for Napoli this season where he came off the bench twice, he has already scored four times and assisted twice. At 29, he looks pretty much of a late bloomer and his experience on the biggest stages could really give an advantage to Everton, who are struggling to keep pace with others in booking a Europa League qualification spot for the next season.
Mertens’ sense of positioning and providing penetrating passes is worth noticing and Koeman could often use him as a centre forward and push Barkley on the wings, which would not only increase the counter-attack by multiple levels but also relieve the pressure of Toffees’ defence, who have been hugely worked this campaign.
With Bolasie injured and most of the first team players out of touch, Koeman is desperately looking to bring in impactful players up front, and Mertens certainly look like an amazing choice. What remains to be seen is whether Everton can beat Liverpool and the other bigwigs to the signature of Mertens.
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