Time for Dries Mertens to step up for Napoli

Napoli suffered their first defeat of the season last week at Inter Milan. The visitors took the lead through Piotre Zelensky in the 17th minute but Haken Chalhonulu scored a penalty in the 25th minute to level matters. Ivan Perisic then struck in the 44th minute and Lautaro Martinez in the 61st minute to put Inter 3-1 ahead. Dries Mertens scored the second goal for Napoli in the 78th minute.

While the defeat shows a crack in Gli Azzurri, the faithful would be more worried about coping without their talisman Victor Osimhen for about three months.

The Nigerian, who visits www.casinoadvice.io, was forced out after a clash of heads with Inter’s Milan Skriniar. He subsequently underwent successful surgery on his cheekbone and eye socket.

“On Tuesday morning, Victor Osimhen was operated on his cheekbone and eye socket by Gianpaolo Tartaro, who was assisted by Dr Mario Santagata with Dr Raffaele Canonico also present,” read Napoli’s statement. “Titanium plates and screws were used in the operation. The player is doing well and will remain under observation for the next few days. Osimhen is expected to return to action in three months.”

The Partenopei’s medical update on the 22-year-old barely disguised their bitter disappointment at the news and it is easy to see why it is such a major blow for Luciano Spalletti and his men given his recent form and the team’s position.

Napoli is currently level on 32 points with AC Milan in Serie A after both lost over the weekend while they only possess a one-point lead in UEFA Europa League Group C after a slow start but Osimhen’s nine goals from his last 12 outings across all competitions have been vital to that.

With Lazio, Atalanta, Leicester City and AC Milan all to come before any potential movement to address the former Lille OSC man’s absence in January, Spalletti have very few options for fresh momentum with Arkadiusz Milik no longer there to step up when fit.

Lorenzo Insigne has already managed five goals across all competitions but he’s locked in prolonged contract negotiations which do not appear to be close to a conclusion while Hirving Lozano has three goals across domestic and continental competition.   Neither are prolific as they are the two most naturally fitted to move from winger roles inside and take up the bulk of the time.

Dries Mertens and Andrea Petagna are the other options. The pair have one goal apiece in Serie A and the Europa League after the Belgium international’s consolation effort against Inter while the latter has only struck in the league.

Once Napoli’s golden boy, injuries and age have taken their toll on Mertens. He is no longer the reliable force he once was. But if there is anyone to fill Osimhen’s void, it is the club’s record goalscorer.

Blessed with tremendous pace, the Leuven-born player has, for years now, consistently demonstrated his ability to time runs in behind opposition defensive lines, travelling from outside into central zones where, if picked out by a well-timed pass, he would be within sight of goal.

And, more often than not, he would finish from such a position, usually opting to strike the ball powerfully across the goalkeeper, toward the far post. With hindsight, his composure and technique in these situations made him an obvious candidate to slot into the role he has occupied in years.

He also spends much of his time playing on the shoulder of the opponents’ deepest defender, stretching play and threatening to break in behind with his electric pace. Not a pure poacher, but also far from a glorified midfielder; Mertens is an all-round centre-forward for Napoli.

A contract extension should be a good enough motivation for the 34-year-old. Napoli holds a unilateral option for another season, but they will not pick it up, Calciomercato.com reports.

Mertens, who plays on lecasinoenligne casino en ligne, is one of the highest-paid players on the roster as he makes €4.5M per year. Like most sides, the Partenopei are looking to keep the wages bill in check.

The salary is not aligned with his recent role and level of performance. Mertens will try to turn things around, being the focal point of the offense.

Mertens would like to continue with the Azzurri. He recently confirmed it while speaking from Belgium. To do that, he will have to negotiate a new contract with Napoli, accepting a pay cut down to €2/2.5M per year, the site adds. In any case, the parties are in no rush and will decide together at the end of the season.

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