Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mertens to Chelsea, Robinson to AC Milan
With just over 36 hours remaining until the January transfer window slams shut, teams are furiously hoping to make deals to bolster the squad for the remainder of the season. Some teams are motivated by injuries, others by a fear of relegation, others still by the chance at securing a spot in Europe.
Chelsea has been pushing for a new striker ever since Tammy Abraham went down with an ankle injury, and while Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi sit in the wings, the Blues still seem desperate to throw anyone else out on the field – even an injured Abraham. They have been linked with a host of strikers, but with Edinson Cavani now reportedly staying in Paris, the Blues have progressed down the list.
Next up in the Chelsea striker rumor department is Belgian forward Dries Mertens, who is out of contract at Napoli at the end of the season. According to Sky Sports, the two clubs have begun engaging in negotiations to push forward a last-ditch deal before Friday’s deadline. The report suggests that Mertens could be had for as little as $6.5 million due to his current contract situation.
At 32 years old, Mertens has still been productive for Napoli this season. Despite a long goal and assist drought through late 2019, he has still collected four goals and three assists on the season. However, he’s missed all of January with an adductor injury that had troubled him for weeks, and that could carry over to the start of his Chelsea tenure. There is also the potential snag that Mertens is just four goals shy of Napoli’s all-time goalscoring record held by Marek Hamsik, and reports suggest there is a strong personal pull for him to stay the remainder of the season to try and break that mark before his contract runs out.
With Chelsea looking to bring on a new striker – even a 32-year-old one – it’s somewhat baffling how desperate the Blues seem given that Giroud and Batshuayi remain in the squad.
Giroud in particular won a World Cup just two years ago and many still believe he has a lot to offer, despite being 33 years old. Still, he has barely been afforded a chance under Frank Lampard with just five Premier League appearances this season and under 200 total minutes logged.
Desperate for a move away, few destinations have materialized. Reports indicated on Thursday that Giroud turned down an approach from Newcastle United, but one that may interest him is Serie A side Lazio, who reportedly is engaging in talks with Chelsea for Giroud according to Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio. The report states that Lazio has already come to an agreement with the player, and now must agree to transfer terms with the Blues.