Napoli identify Malen as man to replace Callejon or Mertens


Napoli have reportedly been tracking PSV Eindhoven star Donyell Malen for some time as they look to replace ageing wingers Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens.

Reports in Italy claim Napoli scouts have been following Malen’s progress in the Netherlands this season and already view him as an heir apparent to their 32-year-old widemen.

Mertens and Callejon both arrived in Naples in 2013 and quickly became important players in the Azzurri’s front three – either side of Lorenzo Insigne – under first Maurizio Sarri and now Carlo Ancelotti.

But they have contracts that expire next summer and there is mounting speculation that one – or both – will be gone by the start of next season.

Callejon has been linked with a move to join up with the man who signed him – Rafa Benitez – at the Spaniard’s Chinese club Dalian Yifang.

Napoli could therefore raid a familiar source, having signed Mertens from PSV for £8.3million and also forking out a club-record 42million euros to nab Mexican star Hirving Lozano this past summer from the Philips Stadion club.

Malen would probably cost a bit more than Mertens did, however, despite the Dutch club picking him up for a cut-price figure of £200,000 from Arsenal two years ago.

Recent reports have put Malen’s price-tag at £50million, such has been his rise to prominence after returning to the Netherlands.

The 20-year-old has since gone on to become a star in the Eredivisie and is currently the division’s top scorer, with ten goals in 12 games.

Last month, Tuttosport reported Arsenal want to bring Malen back to north London but faced competition from AC Milan for his signature.

It now seems Napoli could be their biggest rivals and with Arsenal and Milan not as sure as the San Paolo club over Champions League football for next season, Malen may be tempted to follow in Lozano’s footsteps.