Mertens sets Napoli goalscoring record as Belgian star closes on new contract

Napoli Mertens
The 33-year-old forward scored in the first half of his side's Coppa Italia semi-final second-leg tie with Inter

Dries Mertens has overtaken Marek Hamsik to become Napoli’s all-time leading goalscorer.

The Belgian scored 41 minutes into his side’s Coppa Italia semi-final clash with Inter to take his tally to 122 goals for the club.

He had previously been tied on 121 with Hamsik, having recently passed Diego Maradona’s tally of 115.

The landmark comes as Mertens closes in on a new contract with the Serie A side, after months of speculation linking him with a move away.

Chelsea and Inter were among the clubs interested in him, but Napoli director Cristiano Giuntoli has now suggested a new deal isn’t far away.

“I know the lawyers are working on it, he wants to stay and we intend to keep him, so there’s only one result that can come from that,” Giuntoli told RAI Sport as Napoli returned to competitive action.

“It’s important to be back on the field and a great sign for society at large too.

“We are in the semi-final, had a great first-leg performance and want to keep that going by reaching the final.”

Mertens’ record-breaking goal was reminiscent of many he has scored for the Serie A giants, tapped home after a lightning-quick counterattack with Lorenzo Insigne.

The Belgium international, capped 90 times for his country, joined Napoli from PSV in 2013 and has become synonymous with the club in the seven years since.

A favourite of former manager Maurizio Sarri, he peaked with 28 goals in 35 Serie A appearances in the 2016-17 season, and has scored at least 10 goals in all competitions in every season he has spent at the club – a record which dates back 10 seasons, through his time at PSV and Utrecht.

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The news may come as a blow to Frank Lampard and Chelsea, who had been hoping to tie up a free transfer for Mertens at the expiry of his contract .

Chelsea had previously tried to sign Mertens on a short-term deal back in January, but Napoli fought hard to keep hold of one of their star performers.

Mertens had fallen out with chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis over the treatment of former coach Carlo Ancelotti, but the relationship has been patched up.