Inter will turn to Napoli forward Dries Mertens if they are unable to prise Olivier Giroud away from Chelsea, it’s been reported.
The Gazzetta dello Sport says the Nerazzurri have identified Mertens as a possible signing as he has yet to agree a new contract with his current club, and Inter are looking for a replacement for Alexis Sanchez.
Alexis’ loan transfer from Manchester United will expire at the end of the season and Inter are unlikely to attempt to make it a permanent arrangement given the Chilean’s injury-hit campaign. The 31-year-old has made 15 appearances for Inter this season, scoring once on his return to Serie A. He previously turned out for Udinese, racking up more than 100 appearances and over 20 goals in three seasons.
Inter coach Antonio Conte has long been touted for a reunion with Giroud, the pair having worked together in Conte’s previous post at Chelsea, but the Blues have an option to extend the France international’s contract. That would end the chances of Giroud and Conte linking up again, and force Inter to turn to another option.
The Milan club have also been linked with Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen, and with Romelu Lukaku already in place at San Siro, Vertonghen and Mertens would make three Belgium internationals at the club.
Mertens has been a Napoli player since a 2013 move from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. He has made 309 appearances for the Azzurri, scoring 121 goals, and with Lukaku and Vertonghen was part of the Belgium squad that reached third place at the 2018 World Cup. He will turn 33 in May 2019, as compared to Giroud, who is 34 in September.
A move to Inter for Giroud would also up the number of ex-Premier League players at Inter following Conte’s title-winning spell with Chelsea. Victor Moses is currently on loan at Inter from the London club, while Lukaku represented Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, Everton and Manchester United before moving to Serie A. Inter also added two January signings from England, taking Ashley Young from Manchester United and Christian Eriksen from Vertonghen’s Spurs.