Mertens, happy with Galatasaray but missing Napoli, turned down Serie A rivals

Dries Mertens was torn when he left Napoli, feeling at home in Campania but not wanting to play for any other Serie A side, despite having offers to stay in Italy.

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Belgium international Dries Mertens is delighted with the start his former club Napoli have made to the 2022/23 season but he is also content with the legacy that he has left with the Partenopei.

The 35-year-old left Serie A when his contract at the Neapolitan club came to an end after nine seasons and he has kept up to date with the progress of his former club while playing for Turkish giants Galatasaray.

In an interview with Il Mattino, Mertens also revealed that there was the possibility of him joining Salernitana in the summer, but he eventually decided against it.

Napoli leading the Serie A title race

“I miss Napoli but I’m fine here,” Mertens said. “The team is doing spectacular things. I enjoyed myself in Naples for nine years, that’s enough.”

The Partenopei are currently eight points ahead of AC Milan in the Serie A table, and given their momentum before the season came to a pause due to the 2022 World Cup, they could win their first scudetto since 1989/90.

“All this really makes me very happy,” Mertens added.

“We already came very close last year. It is a shame about that home game we lost against AC Milan, I’m convinced that if we had won it everything would have changed.”

Mertens turned down transfer to Salernitana

From 2013 until 2022, Mertens scored 148 goals in 397 competitive matches for Napoli, making him the greatest goalscorer of all time for the southern Italian club.

The Belgian wanted to remain in Naples after his contract expired, and he could have joined local rivals Salernitana, but he considered the idea of playing for another Serie A team to be uncomfortable for him.

“There had been contact,” Mertens admitted, asked about the proposed move to Salerno.

Iervolino understood that I wanted to keep my home in Naples and he tried, but for me there was a big problem: after wearing the Azzurri shirt I never wanted to wear any other in Serie A. It would have been strange.”

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