Napoli and Belgium forward Dries Mertens has revealed that Barcelona were interested in signing him, with the player also saying that he didn’t pursue a move to the Spanish giants over worries about his playing time.
This is according to Belgian news outlet Het Laatste Nieuws, who report that the forward was against pursuing a move to the Catalan giants due to him worrying about not being able to get into the first ahead of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi or Neymar.
Speaking about Barcelona’s interest in the star and his reasons for not pursuing a move, Mertens stated “There was interest from them [Barcelona] for a while, but I would’ve been the reserve to Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, so after a great year at Napoli I didn’t want to go back on the bench, even if it was Barcelona.”
Since his arrival in Naples from Dutch giants PSV in 2013, Mertens has been a revelation in Italy.
In 206 games for Maurizio Sarri’s side, the 30-year-old has managed to clock up an impressive 81 goals and 55 assists, a record that shouldn’t be sniffed at considering he was used as a winger for his first few years at the club.
Since moving from out wide into a more central role, the Belgian international has blossomed for Sarri’s side. Last season, the player managed to amass a record of 34 goals 46 appearances in all competitions, a record only a few players in the world could better.
For his national team, Mertens has managed to do fairly well, as the forward has managed to score 13 goals in 65 appearances for Roberto Martinez’s side, which is decent considering the player has to compete with duo Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke as the side’s main striker.
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Should Mertens have pursued a move to Ernesto Valverde’s side, it would’ve been interesting to see how the Belgian performed alongside Messi and co in the famous kit of the Blaugrana.