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Chelsea encouraged to make second push for Napoli striker Mertens

Chelsea have been encouraged in their interest for Napoli striker Dries Mertens.

Mertens will be able to move for free this summer as his contract with Napoli expires at the end of the season - and he could be set for a move to the Premier League.

Chelsea reportedly had a £6million bid for Mertens rejected in the January transfer window as manager Frank Lampard searched for a centre-forward to provide cover and competition for Tammy Abraham.

Gazzetta dello Sport talks between Napoli and Mertens to extend the player's contract are not going well, and he looks increasingly likely to leave the Serie A club at the end of June.

Mertens wants €7.5million (£6.3m) per year for two seasons, but Napoli's current proposal is stuck at €4m (£3.3m) plus another €1m (£845,000) in performance-related bonuses.

Mertens was reportedly not keen on a move to Chelsea in January as he wanted to stay at Napoli and break the club's scoring record, currently held by Marek Hamsik.

He is currently three short of breaking Hamsik's club-record 121 - and Lampard and Chelsea will no doubt be willing him on to eclipse that mark so he can move on in the summer.

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Paul Vegas

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