Sunday July 5 2020
Mertens: 'Gap with Juve minimal'

Dries Mertens has insisted that the gap between Napoli and Juventus is ‘minimal. I’m convinced winning the Coppa Italia is a starting point’.

Mertens recently helped Napoli win the Coppa Italia, but they go into their Serie A match against Roma this evening 30 points behind leaders Juve.

Much of that, according to the forward, stems from when he and his teammates staged a squad mutiny against President Aurelio De Laurentiis.

“[I stayed] because I’m convinced that winning the Coppa Italia is the starting point of a project that will give us great satisfaction,” he told Il Mattino.

“I really believe the gap with Juventus is minimal, much less than what the current table says.

“It’s a table that’s the result of the mistakes of so many people. We went through a complicated moment [with the mutiny], where we were all to blame, but we came out stronger and more tight-knit.

“It was a time when so many people made mistakes, but now we must think about what awaits us because the road we’ve taken is a winning one.

“Certain mistakes make you stronger, it’s true, but what makes you even stronger is winning. This is why I say that the Coppa Italia was a key moment for everyone.”

The 33-year-old ended speculation about his future when he signed a new contract with the Vesuviani last month, and he again expressed his love for the club.

“I decided to stay during the quarantine. The more I thought about where I could go, the more I was convinced that nowhere else would be better than here, so I agreed to sign on.

“De Laurentiis and I have known each other for seven years. With him, it’s like being on a rollercoaster, there are constant ups and downs...

“However, I certainly couldn’t have stayed if I wasn’t close to him. What matters is this feeling there is now between him and Gattuso, that they work in synergy.

“It’s said that you fall in love with flawed people but, even if Napoli had any flaws, I wouldn’t touch anything. I’d leave everything as it is.

“I’m in love with everything that’s here, from the atmosphere that reigns in the historic city centre and the Quartieri Spagnoli, where I’d also like to go and live, to the sunsets of Posillipo.

“I could talk about Naples for hours. I never tire of doing so.”