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Dries Mertens is a Belgian footballer who can play as a winger or a striker. Born on May 6, 1987 in Belgium, Mertens began his career with local outfit Stade Leuven. Even as a young boy, Mertens started attracting the attention of scouts from across Belgium and Anderlecht were able to sign the youngster in 1998. However, football whispers soon noticed Gent entering into the race for the young forward once he was released from Anderlecht. At this time, Mertens was not a physically strong player and he was featured prominently on gossip columns for loan moves in order to gain experience.
Gent decided not to take the chance with Mertens, who ended up joining AGOVV Apeldoorn for around £45,000 in 2006. The move was initially on a loan deal but it was converted into a permanent move even after the return of just two goals in 35 games. In the subsequent two campaigns, Mertens returned with impressive figures of 15 and 13 goals respectively. This led to transfer news being rife about a switch to Utrecht in 2009 for around £540,000.
Utrecht were able to get seven goals in the striker’s debut campaign. Once again, he improved in the second campaign with 10 goals in 31 games. This led to his first major transfer rumours regarding his career, as he made a £7.5 million switch to PSV in 2011. The move to Philips Stadion seemed to unlock Mertens and bring the best out of him. In his first season, the forward came up with 21 goals in 33 games. He would go on to average around a goal every other game in his two seasons with PSV.
This led to Napoli making him as one of their transfer targets. After a lot of rumours, Mertens made the switch to Italian football in 2013. In his first three seasons, the forward struggled to make an impression in the goals department but his overall contribution helped Napoli to the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana titles. His best season with the Italian outfit was during the 2016-17 campaign when he managed 28 goals in 35 games, as Napoli almost won the league title.
Dries Mertens Transfer Rumours
- From Gent to AGOVV for £45,000 in 2007
- From AGOVV to Utrecht for £540,000 in 2009
- From Utrecht to PSV Eindhoven for £7.65 million in 2011
- From PSV Eindhoven to Napoli for £8.5 million in 2013
Mertens played for a number of amateur Belgian outfits before making the move to Gent. However, a lack of regular action at Gent led to the move to AGOVV, where he displayed a lot of promise to earn himself a transfer to Utrecht.
Now, his performances in the Dutch Eredivisie lowered the transfer odds of a big-money move. This came about in 2011 when PSV calling and two strong seasons at the Philips Stadion put him on the map for bigger moves. After a lot of rumours, Napoli gave him a route to Italian football with an £8.5 million transfer in 2013.