Saturday August 10 2019
Mertens: 'Napoli must take another step'

Dries Mertens warned Napoli “need to keep buying players” in order to end their trophy drought, while Romelu Lukaku “really wanted” the Inter transfer.

The Belgian spoke to ESPN during Napoli’s pre-season tour of the US, which sees them take on Barcelona tonight.

“I came here six years ago and a lot of transfers have gone through, a lot of good players come every year. It’s very important for a club like Napoli to know where we’re coming from and where we’re going,” said Mertens.

“The problem is we are that close to making another step and it’s important to make that final step. I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but we have to keep on buying players.

“It’s difficult, because in the end if you buy the best players, you have the best team. I think the way we’re doing it now, some players together for six or seven years, that is important also. At the end of the day, to win trophies, you need some more steps.”

The Partenopei have gone from Maurizio Sarri to Carlo Ancelotti and Mertens was asked about the differences between these tacticians.

“I have to tell the truth, I felt really good with Sarri. He changed my position, gave me another dimension in viewing football. The team was really good before, but Ancelotti changed some things and made it his own. It’s beautiful to see how a Coach can change the team.

“I learned a lot and you never know what you’ll do in future, but I learned a great deal from those two Coaches.”

Fellow Belgian Lukaku has also joined Serie A now, moving from Manchester United to Inter after months of tense negotiations.

“I texted Lukaku and said congratulations. He was very happy, because it’s something he really wanted. I’m sure he’ll be very important for Inter, but also for Calcio.”

Belgium reached the World Cup semi-final in 2018, but Mertens insists the old cliché of them playing as individuals no longer applies.

“I think Belgium are playing as a team, because we finished third in the World Cup, but you need luck also. France scored on a corner and for the rest, I don’t think they were better than us. They were just lucky to score the first goal and then kept the clean sheet.”

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