NAPLES – The tale of the scoring prince charming has turned into a match without gloves with numbers. The story confirmed by Napoli, by the club, is as follows: to renew his contract expiring on 30 June until 2023, Dries Mertens he would have asked for € 4 million plus bonuses for a season (plus the power of attorney to be paid to his agents). On the other hand, sources close to the player tell of a much smaller request: a biennial of 2.5 million euros per season, and therefore more or less half of what he earned in the last two years (4.5 million base plus 500 thousand euro bonus). In the meantime, from his entourage, no one makes official statements: “No comment,” says lawyer Laurens Melotte, owner together with Stijn Francis of the law firm that looks after his interests, Stirr Associates. And in between, the people: the surprise, the expectation and the anxiety of millions of confused fans who have never stopped loving Ciro, the only and great idol of recent years, and hoping for an agreement. In a happy ending: like in fairy tales, not like in a ring.
And then, the news. The story of the facts that in the last twenty-four hours have shaken the blue planet to the point of suggesting the utmost caution in the articulated description of the positions that have gradually emerged. The first is confirmed by Naples: through an email sent by the law firm Stirr Associates of Keerbergen, a municipality of Flanders about twenty kilometers from his Leuven, Mertens would have requested 2.4 million of engagement, 1.6 million of a one-off signing and a series of bonuses to extend his contract expiring on June 30 by one year. That is, 4 million net plus bonuses: just under the 4.5 million plus bonuses earned in the last two seasons. Among other things, June 30 is also the deadline by which Napoli could still exercise the unilateral option of automatic renewal of a season, and at the same current salary. Option that, however, he will not exercise: the renewal proposal that the blue club has explained that it has never formulated officially, considering that after the post Empoli coffee between Ciro and the president, another meeting was not staged, it would not go beyond a 1.5 million annual contract (perhaps with some bonuses).
Ciro in half
Sources close to Mertens, meanwhile, relaunch another version: Dries, to renew, would have asked for a two-year contract of 2.5 million per season, so as to spread the current salary between 2023 and 2024. In summary, the player would be willing to halve his salary, but focusing on a two-year project: Ciro in half. The two positions that emerged, in short, are very different, and if on the one hand Napoli confirms the request via email for 4 million plus bonuses, from Stirr Associates they opt for silence. “I’m not talking about the Mertens question. No comment. I can’t help you. Sorry », the courteous dribbling of the lawyer Melotte. The protagonist, meanwhile, is busy with the Belgian national team in preparing the next Nations League matches: tomorrow with Zielinski’s Poland, Saturday with Wales and Tuesday again with Poland. And for the moment he is silent.
What a frost
The cover title, however, is very simple: polar frost between Napoli and Mertens. And the renewal, at present, is practically impossible: at certain figures there are no margins, it still leaks from the blue club. Breakup, divorce in sight after nine seasons of love, tongues and record of goals (overall, in the league and in the European cups). And then a Neapolitan son named Ciro, as people renamed his father, whom De Laurentiis joking via Twitter after the victory against Sassuolo said he had already signed. They were other times, close but so far away. And now? Gattuso would like him at Valencia, but the club’s economic situation does not appear to be the most optimistic, as does Sarri at Lazio, but the club’s policy does not coincide with the coach’s wishes. And again: there are proposals in Brazil (Botafogo), Dubai and Qatar. Thousands of kilometers from Naples. We will see.
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