Dries Mertens is delighted to have leapfrogged Diego Maradona into second place in Napoli’s all-time scorers’ list, and is now eyeing up the big prize.
Mertens surpassed Maradona’s haul on Wednesday night by scoring a brace to help Napoli secure a 3-2 Champions League win at RB Salzburg. He also assisted Lorenzo Insigne’s winner.
The Belgian forward has, therefore, taken his tally up to 116 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances across all competitions.
Only former Partenopei captain Marek Hamsik stands in his way of taking the mantle of Napoli’s record scorer. And he’ll likely won’t have too long either as only five goals separate Mertens from the now-Dalian Yifang midfielder.
“I’m delighted with these two goals because it earns me a place in Napoli’s record books, something I’ve very proud of,” said Mertens on the club’s website.
“I’ve overtaken Diego, who’s the all-time idol of this city, and now I hope to catch Marek, who is five goals away. I haven’t said anything to Marek but I hope to overtake him soon, maybe by Christmas.
“This achievement is obviously a personal joy for me but also for the team, because I always put Napoli’s result before me.
“It was important for us to start winning on the road again as it’s a great morale boost.”
Having already scored seven goals in 10 games this season, Mertens’ aim of overtaking Hamsik by Christmas seems a realistic one.
He will exactly have 12 games to either reach or surpass the landmark before Napoli enter the winter break on December 22.
Substitute Insigne, meanwhile, thanked manager Carlo Ancelotti for his faith after ending a four-match scoreless run. It came amid rumours the pair fell out over the winger’s lack of action.
“I was calm on the bench because I knew I could help the team coming off the bench,” said Insigne.
“I hugged Ancelotti when I scored because I rate him very highly. He showed faith me in me and told me I was going to score.
“I accept his decisions. He’s a great coach. There may have been a few misunderstandings but it’s all cleared up now. You need everyone in the squad to win games.”
Napoli will next head to SPAL on Sunday in a Serie A match.