Why Arsenal should have signed Napoli’s Dries Mertens in January
In January, the Times had claimed that Arsenal rejected a chance to sign Napoli forward Dries Mertens due to his age.
The Gunners signed Pablo Mari on loan from Flamengo until the end of the season before following up with the acquisition of Cedric Soares from Southampton during the January transfer window. Mikel Arteta used the January transfer window as an opportunity to strengthen his defence and the Spanish tactician did a smart job.
Arsenal have once again been defensively poor, conceding 34 goals in 25 games so far this campaign. Experienced central defenders such as David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi have failed to live up to their expected standards, leaving Arteta’s club 10th in the table.
The fact that they have conceded over 30 league games doesn’t read well for the Gunners. Therefore, reinforcing the backline was the need of the hour last month.
Nevertheless, the Gunners boss should have also bolstered his attack during the winter transfer window.
In Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli and Mesut Ozil, the Gunners boast of an exciting attack. But Pepe is yet to live up to the lofty expectations of the Emirates faithful after joining from Lille last summer. Ozil hasn’t scored a goal this season while Lacazette has now gone 10 league games without scoring.
Aubameyang returned after a three-game suspension against Burnley and looked rusty, missing a couple of gilt-edged chances at Turf Moor. With the forwards looking a bit off-colour of late, Arteta should have freshened up his squad by signing Dries Mertens.
Mertens, 32, has netted 119 goals in 303 appearances across all competitions for Napoli. The forward will be out of contract at Napoli in the summer and can leave the club for free if he doesn’t agree to a new contract.
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The Belgian is a proven forward in Europe, having bagged so many goals for the Naples-based outfit. He has netted 10 goals across all competitions this season, regaining his form under Gennaro Gattuso. Plus, Mertens has international pedigree as well, having represented Belgium 86 times and scoring 18 goals.
With an experience of playing in over 500 club-level games, Mertens would have been a resourceful signing for Arsenal. He has a proven track record and would have eased the burden of scoring off Aubameyang and Lacazette. Despite being 32, the Gunners have missed a trick by not recruiting him in January.