It is impossible to predict how the current pandemic will affect Arsenal and other clubs’ ability to sign players in the near future. However, recent reports suggest that the Gunners may have found a solution to the challenge of landing a top goalscorer – which will be an absolute necessity if they fail to hold on to star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Il Mattino, a newspaper based in Naples, report that their local club Napoli have been unsuccessful in their attempts to extend Belgian forward Dries Mertens’ contract – and it is Arsenal and Atletico Madrid who are looking to capitalise. Napoli fans have been waiting eagerly for news of a contract renewal, but as days go by without any progress, a free transfer is a very realistic possibility.
Standing at 5″7, Mertens pace and versatility have made him a very important asset to the Serie A club, where he is still a regular despite his age. Of course, he would only be a short-term fix and would have big shoes to fill at the Emirates, but his goalscoring record would nevertheless be very tempting to Arteta, who has limited funds to work with and multiple squad weaknesses to address.
The 32-year-old has scored 12 goals in the league this season, most recently against Barcelona in the Champions League – a goal that saw him equal Marek Hamsik as Napoli’s top goalscorer in history. With 121 goals in 309 games, Mertens has beaten the record of Diego Maradona, who scored 115 in 259.
Header photo: Erik Cleves Kristensen