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West Ham could sign iconic 270-goal star Dries Mertens for free after 2020 snub amid controversy in Italy

West Ham United could now sign iconic 270-goal star Dries Mertens for free after his 2020 snub amid controversy in Italy.

West Ham boss David Moyes has made it clear he wants to continue to build the team around young, talented players hungry to prove themselves.

But the Hammers boss has admitted he may need to accelerate his recruitment model and aim for a higher quality of player given West Ham’s rapid progress over the last two years.

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In that time West Ham have gone from relegation candidates to a genuine European outfit.

At the start of that journey in 2020, Moyes allegedly tried to sign Belgian star Mertens from Napoli.

According to the likes of The Daily Star at the time, Naples legend Mertens rejected a move to West Ham – despite his wife, who had snubbed the Hammers in 2017 – being ready to move to London.

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Speaking on Radio CRC back in 2017, writer and presenter Raffaele Auriemma claimed Mertens was wanted by West Ham but his wife didn’t fancy it – as also reported by Hammers fan site Knees Up Mother Brown at the time.

“Mertens will sign within a matter of hours,” said Auriemma.

“He was convinced by his wife who who wanted to stay in Naples. Napoli have already rejected an offer from West Ham of €30million (£25m) for the Belgian.”

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West Ham tried again when Moyes returned to the club in January 2020. This time his wife reportedly had a change of heart and was ready to move to east London but Mertens turned it down to remain at Napoli (The Daily Star).

Now West Ham could sign iconic 270-goal star Mertens for free after his 2020 snub amid huge controversy in Italy.

Mertens, who has scored 249 goals in 695 games in his club career as well as 21 in 104 games for Belgium, is an absolute legend at Napoli.

Photo by SSC NAPOLI/SSC NAPOLI via Getty Images

Mertens has become so firmly embedded in Neapolitan culture that he earned the nickname Ciro – the most Neapolitan of names – and then named his son Ciro as well.

And the Italian club’s fans are in revolt after the attacker announced he will be leaving as a free agent having not been offered a new deal by unpopular president Aurelio De Laurentiis (Football Italia).

Napoli fans are a hugely passionate bunch like West Ham’s supporters. And they are even threatening to boycott games over the issue.

Mertens may be 35 but he would add great quality and experience to a West Ham side desperately in need of more guile and cutting edge.

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Given his attempt to sign Mertens in 2020, Moyes is a known admirer of the Belgian, who is as fit as a fiddle and oozes class.

Bringing him to the London Stadium on a free would be a no-brainer despite his age. Although there could be an issue for West Ham if Mertens makes astronomical wage demands.

Anyone doubting his quality only need look at Mertens’s statistics last season. In an injury-hit campaign he managed 13 goals and an assist in just 19 starts (WhoScored).

It is certainly one worth exploring for Moyes as every good side needs a mixture of youth and experience to be successful.

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