Napoli forward Dries Mertens reveals Chelsea interest having won Antonio Conte approval

  • Reports have suggested the Chelsea boss was keen to sign the Belgian this summer.

  • Manchester United were also credited with interest until he signed a new deal last week.

Antonio Conte was keen to bring Mertens to Chelsea this summer.Dries Mertens

Dries Mertens has confirmed Chelsea were interested in signing him but insists he is happy at Napoli having just signed a new contract with the Serie A giants.

Following Gonzalo Higuain's departure last summer, Mertens thrived in a more advanced role for Napoli during the 2016-17 season, scoring 34 times in his 46 appearances in all competitions. That excellent form was rewarded with a new deal last week, with the Belgian signing a three-year extension, keeping him at the Stadio San Paolo until 2020.

Mertens is currently away on international duty ahead for an international friendly with Czech Republic before their World Cup qualifier against Estonia. But speaking to reporters, the Napoli forward confirmed the Premier League champions had been keen on bringing him to Stamford Bridge.

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"Yes there was interest [from Chelsea], and from other clubs also, but in my head there was never an intention to change clubs," he told Sky Sports. "This season was really good. I am going to try and be even better next year."

Mertens' new deal does include a buyout clause which stands at €28m for clubs outside of Italy, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. A relatively paltry release clause could keep clubs from the Premier League interested, although the Belgian insists he has no intention of leaving Naples.

"Yes there is a buyout clause. But I'm happy at Napoli and I want to stay. I really like Italy. I am good there and they treat me good."

According to Het Laatste Nieuws, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is a firm admirer of Mertens, identifying him as an ideal addition to his attack given his versatility and potent scoring touch. During contract negotiations, Belgium's La Dernière Heure reported both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were also monitoring the situation.

Mertens' new deal however will likely keep him out of the clutches of any rival club until at least next summer.

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