• News

Mertens comments on Napoli aspirations ahead of AZ clash

Dries Mertens, Napoli
Getty Images

Dries Mertens has outlined Napoli’s ambition to lift the Europa League trophy this season in the build-up to the AZ Alkmaar clash.

Napoli have got off to a flying 2020/21 start, winning three of their opening four Serie A fixtures via at least a two-goal margin.

The lone failure came as a result of confusion over coronavirus rules in Italy. The Partenopei were handed a 3-0 loss to Juventus a fortnight ago, which left Gennaro Gattuso fuming.

Regardless, his men have been more than impressive this term, putting four past Atalanta only last weekend.

Napoli will get their Europa League campaign underway on Thursday when they host AZ Alkmaar at the Stadio San Paolo.

Speaking of the club’s aspirations in the new season on the eve of the abovementioned encounter, Mertens said: “We have plenty of motivations.

“It is not easy when you change the system. There are also difficult moments – we are still working,” he said, as relayed by the Football-Italia.

“AZ are a strong team with very strong young players and a great future. If you are not smart, you can also lose and concede many goals.”

Inter Milan reached the competition’s final back last season, setting the example Napoli will be looking to follow on this term.

“Inter reached the final last season. It’s not easy, but it’s an important trophy for us and many players. We have many, and they are all hungry to play,” Mertens added.

Yet, the Belgian forward is still uncertain whether Napoli have improved compared to the last season.

“Yes and no,” he added.

“We must not forget that we haven’t only signed new players, we’ve also lost some of them. The more we work together, the stronger we become.

“The most important thing is to work, and we are working well, every day we grow.”

Mertens has also reflected on Victor Osimhen’s summer arrival from Lille. The 21-year-old forward, who joined for a club-record of €70million, opened his scoring account against Atalanta a few days ago.

“He gives us depth – we noticed it with Atalanta. Hirving Lozano and him brought the defense away and I was able to touch more balls, but there are also other players.

“When there is a cross we have more players in the box, this was the weakness of last year.”