KEY POINTS

  • Napoli star Dries Mertens is said to be a target of Arsenal and Tottenham, reports said
  • Mertens has become Napoli's all-time top goalscorer, surpassing the late Diego Maradona
  • Maradona had heaped praise on the veteran striker

A prolific striker who had surpassed the late Diego Maradona's goal record has revealed his stance on transfer rumors attached to his name.

Napoli superstar Dries Mertens has played the last eight seasons of his career with Partenopei. At 34 years old, Mertens is still one of the club’s top performers, and his fine form has prompted English Premier League sides Arsenal and Tottenham to still consider pursuing him.

However, it appears that Mertens has decided to spend the rest of his career at Napoli as the Belgian shut down all transfer link-ups.

“I don’t think I will leave Napoli, no,” Mertens recently told Football Italia. “I won’t be leaving. There’s absolutely no reason for me to leave.”

Though Mertens isn’t as famous as the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he did surpass Maradona, one of the greatest players to ever grace the pitch, in Napoli’s all-time top goalscorers list.

Mertens officially became Napoli’s top goalscorer of all time after scoring a brace in a UEFA Champions League match against Red Bull Salzburg in 2019.

Dries Mertens became Napoli's joint top all-time scorer with his 121st goal for the club Dries Mertens became Napoli's joint top all-time scorer with his 121st goal for the club Photo: AFP / Filippo MONTEFORTE

Maradona, who tallied a total of 115 goals for Napoli, was overtaken as the club's all-time top scorer in 2017 by Marek Hamsik. Mertens, meanwhile, became the second player to surpass the late Argentine in goals scored as part of the club.

"For me, it wasn't a disappointment,” Maradona told Corriere dello Sport in 2019 after Mertens broke his record. “In fact, I applauded Mertens. When he scored, I thought about Napoli and certainly not myself."

"[Dries] Mertens was born to be a striker, but he didn't know," he added. "All his goals couldn't be scored by someone who isn't a striker at heart."

Like Mertens and avid Napoli fans, Maradona too didn’t want to see the striker part ways with Gli Azzurri. In fact, the World Cup winner even wanted to help Napoli convince Mertens to stay at the time.

"I'd like to do something so that Mertens doesn't leave,” the 1990 Serie A champion stressed. “If it's right and sacrosanct for a professional to always look for a better salary, but it's also true that in no other corner of the world would he feel loved, respected, pampered and important like he does in Naples.”

"Therefore, dear [Napoli] president, don't let him get away,” he continued. “He's over 30 years old, I know, but he runs, plays and scores goals with the freshness and enthusiasm of a young lad."

Diego Maradona died of a heart attack in November 2020 Diego Maradona died of a heart attack in November 2020 Photo: AFP / ALEJANDRO PAGNI