Chinese Super League Rumors: Napoli Winger Dries Mertens Rejects 'Lucrative' Offer From Chinese Top-Flight Club
Napoli winger Dries Mertens has admitted that he turned down a "lucrative" offer from the Chinese Super League to stay in Italy even though the said deal would have "made his grandchildren rich."
BBC Sport reported that the 29-year-old Belgian forward was approached by an unnamed Chinese top-flight club as the country's winter transfer window is still ongoing until the end of the month. Although the exact figures were not disclosed, the offer was said to be "lucrative" and is massive enough to even make Mertens' grandchildren wealthy.
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"I thought about it for a day but I refused," Mertens told a local Belgian news outlet. "I can assure you one thing: it was really hard to say 'no' to such a figure because it guarantees wealth for your children and even grandchildren."
Fellow Belgium international, Axel Witsel, ditched Russian club Zenit Saint Petersburg to join newly-promoted CSL side Tianjin Quanjian in early January for a yearly wage of about $19 million.
Other recent transfers to the CSL include former Chelsea midfielder Oscar, who is set to earn $25.5 million a year with Shanghai SIPG, and Argentine striker Carlos Tevez, who is the current highest-paid footballer in the world with an annual paycheck of $41 million from Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.
Mertens has been with Napoli since the summer of 2013 when he was acquired from Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven for a transfer fee of $10 million. In three-and-a-half seasons with Partenopei, Mertens appeared in a total of 166 games in all competitions and scored 54 times.
This season, he has been one of the Serie A's best goalscorers, placing fourth on the list behind Roma's Edin Dzeko, Juventus' Gonzalo Higuaín, and Torino's Andrea Belotti with 16 goals in 21 games. Overall, he has 20 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions.
Mertens also admitted that he is "curious" about Belgium teammate Witsel's decision to move to China and did his research whether to accept the offer or not. Ultimately, he said that he decided against it as he sees players are "driven by money" in going to the Far East, according to 90min.
"Sometimes you hear players talking about their life choices as a search for a new experience. It's not true, they're driven by money," he said.