Mertens overtakes Maradona’s Napoli goal record, pledges to stay


NAPLES: Dries Mertens on Sunday overtook club legend Diego Maradona in Napoli’s all-time Serie A scorers list after bagging his 82st goal in a 2-1 win over Cagliari which sealed second place in this season.

The Belgian striker headed in the equaliser after 85 minutes in Naples to surpass former Argentinian ace Maradona, who hit 81 league goals between 1984 and 1991.

Mertens is now the third best Serie A scorer in the club’s history, behind Antonio Vojak, who hit a record 102 league goals between 1929 and 1935 and Slovakian Marek Hamsik, who achieved 100 before leaving to play in China this season.

“I’m very happy to have overtaken Maradona and to be a part of Napoli’s history,” said Mertens, 31, who arrived in southern Italy in 2013 from PSV Eindhoven.

“We must be proud of the our second place.”

“The future? If I want to score goals in Italy I have to stay. I have always said that I feel good here, I have a contract for next year and I am very happy to stay here.”

Hamsik has scored the most goals in all competitions for Napoli with 121, followed by Maradona on 115 with Mertens now joint third on 107 with Attila Sallustro.

Mertens said he was enjoying playing under Carlo Ancelotti who took over from Maurizio Sarri this season.

“With Ancelotti my role has changed. The place behind the striker is mine. I have more freedom and it shows.”

Mertens has scored 14 goals this season including the last three games.

Both of Napoli’s Serie A titles were won under Maradona in 1987 and 1990.

The club are 16 points behind champions Juventus but 10 ahead of third-placed Inter Milan with three games to play.