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Maradona: “Mertens was always striker at heart”

Maradona, Napoli
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Diego Maradona is currently managing in Argentina, without much success. However, his name is forever engrained as Napoli’s biggest legend.

One of the best players of all time was surpassed on Napoli’s top scorer’s list the last week.

Dries Mertens scored his 116th goal, putting him up by one over Diego Maradona. Only Hamsik is above Mertens now with 121 goals.

Mertens, Napoli
NAPLES, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 29: Dries Mertens of SSC Napoli celebrates after scoring the 1-0 goal during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Brescia Calcio at Stadio San Paolo on September 29, 2019 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Despite the expectations, Maradona was more than happy that Mertens was the one to break the record.

Talking to Corriere dello Sport, quoting Sports Max, Maradona said:

“For me, it wasn’t a disappointment that he surpassed my tally.

“In fact, I applauded Mertens. When he scored, I thought about Napoli and certainly not myself.

“Mertens was born to be a striker, but he didn’t know. All his goals couldn’t be scored by someone who isn’t a striker at heart.

“I’d like to do something so that Mertens doesn’t leave.”

Maradona continued to plead for Merten’s extension with Napoli:

“It’s right and sacrosanct for a professional to always look for a better salary, but it’s also true that in no other corner of the world would he feel loved, respected, pampered and important like he does in Naples.

“Therefore, dear president, don’t let him get away. He’s over 30 years old, I know, but he runs, plays and scores goals with the freshness and enthusiasm of a young lad.”

Maradona also cheekily mentioned he would welcome Mertens at Gimnasia La Plata with open arms:

“If he really should leave, Mertens should know that in La Plata, there will always be a place for him at my Gimnasia,” Maradona concluded.