Dries Mertens says his time at Napoli “could have ended differently” after he departed the club at the end of last season following a breakdown in contract negotiations.
The Belgium international ended a nine-year spell in Naples ahead of the new campaign after failing to agree fresh terms with the Serie A side, subsequently moving to Super Lig outfit Galatasaray on a free transfer.
The 35-year-old was an integral presence for the club over the best part of a decade, helping them to two Coppa Italia triumphs and a further Supercoppa Italia crown during his tenure.
Reflecting on his exit, Mertens revealed he has kept his family home in the region, while acknowledging that had discussions started earlier, he may well have stayed on Napoli’s books.
“It’s been a wonderful nine years,” Mertens told DAZN. “Of course, it could’ve ended differently. I think the club could’ve talked about [the contract] earlier. I hope I can learn from this experience to become even greater.
“Today I’m very happy because my family and I have embarked on a new adventure. I’m in a great city and a great club.
“[But] of course leaving Napoli was hard. My wife cried at the thought of leaving home, so we decided to keep it and try to spend as much time there as possible.”
Mertens, a Belgium centurion, will have his eyes likely set on securing a place in the national team squad for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
— Galatasaray SK (@GalatasaraySK) August 23, 2022
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