Chelsea’s search for a new manager has turned into the biggest saga of the summer transfer window so far. The Blues are yet to terminate Antonio Conte’s contract and have been trying to complete a deal for another Italian in Maurizio Sarri.
And it is finally understood that the Napoli boss is ready to be unveiled as the new Chelsea manager and reports suggest that Sarri is already planning for life next season. He got Napoli playing some sizzling football last season and will certainly have a few players ready to move with him to London. One such player he is after is Dries Mertens.
A crucial part of the Belgian national side in Russia, the 31-year old striker has, in the last few years, turned into one of the most consistent strikers in world football. He scored 18 league goals last season and 28 the season before but is yet to lift a major trophy with the Italian giants. He did win the domestic cup titles but at 31, will want to play at the highest level and could be tempted to join Chelsea.
A centre-forward by trait, Mertens can also play as a support striker, as his biggest strength is his ability to drop into the midfield to make space for his teammates. He is a poacher and an excellent finisher, who puts away half chances consistently. He can also put in crosses from the flank while also creating chances from a deeper role when needed.
He may not be an old-fashioned striker, who dominates the opposition box but is just as effective, thanks to his positioning and understanding of the game. He does not win too many headers but is adept at running defences out of position, making his team, much more dangerous. He is at his best in a system that suits his style of play and that is what Sarri has offered him in the last couple of seasons.
The Italian boss got the squad at Naples to play with Mertens at the focal point and the Belgian did not disappoint. He registered 21 goals and nine assists in all competitions last season and is certain to do the same if he joins Chelsea with Sarri.
He has no previous experience in England and does not have traits that make him tailor-made for the league but with players likes Eden Hazard and N Golo Kante behind him, his productivity will only increase. At 31, he is not a long-term option but with a release clause of just £24.5m, he is an absolute steal.
But do you think he is the right man for the Blues?