‘I offered Mertens four million gross, but he refused’

With pain in its heart, SSC Napoli says goodbye to Dries Mertens. Chairman Aurelio de Laurentiis made several offers to the Belgian, but reportedly got zero on the request.
After nine years, the marriage between Napoli and Mertens has come to an end. โ€œI feel the love for the club, but I must never forget that football is also an industry and pure passion,โ€ De Laurentiis tells Radio Kiss Kiss. โ€œUnfortunately, that sometimes means going against what the fans want. If a supporter says to me: why don‘t you keep Mertens, I can only say that Mertens volunteered to us for another year, because he knows he’s 35 and then retires.โ€
โ€œIf he makes it a cold money issue, I have to say no. If I have to pay Mertens a disproportionate salary, it would be at the expense of next season‘s budget. That will be necessary to attract young players,โ€ says De Laurentiis. โ€œYes, I offered him four million euros gross per season and he refused. So I thanked him so much, his son Ciro and his wife, for everything he has done here and for his unprecedented goals, but we can’t go beyond our abilities.โ€
โ€œI need money to buy young players who can represent Napoli in the coming seasons. When we replaced all older players for players like Mertens and Koulibaly, the fans doubted, but they did become champions here.โ€