Chelsea have been thrown a lifeline on Edinson Cavani but their move for Dries Mertens is OFF.
The Blues had a £5m offer for Mertens rejected by Napoli, who value the Belgium star at three times that amount, and were weighing up whether to return with a better offer.
But the 32-year-old has decided to stay put and leave on a free transfer when his contract runs out in the summer and there could be more interest in him.
Mertens was the striker Chelsea had been pushing hardest for but he was never keen to leave Napoli mid-season with the Euros looming.
He is guaranteed playing time there when he returns from injury and has his sights set on becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer, needing four more goals to do so.
That leaves Chelsea’s hunt for more firepower set to go down to the wire – with Cavani back in play.
The Paris St-Germain target man was Blues boss Frank Lampard’s preferred choice this window and is back on the market after his move to Atletico Madrid collapsed.
Edinson Cavani wants to leave PSG this month in search of a new challenge
Cavani had agreed to join Atletico, whose coach Diego Someone has long wanted to sign the Uruguay star.
But the two clubs failed to agree a fee, with the La Liga side unwilling to offer over £15m for a player who is out of contract in the summer.
Atletico also needed to shift a high earner to accommodate Cavani’s wage demands, but failed to do so.
Dries Mertens wants to see out his contract at Napoli
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The 32-year-old is on over £300,000-a-week at PSG and is not prepared to take a big pay cut to get a move elsewhere.
His wages also ruled Tottenham out of the running, and they remain a potential stumbling block for Chelsea.
But Lampard has urged the Blues board to go the extra mile for Cavani and the club are weighing up whether to…