Chelsea likely to end Dries Mertens transfer pursuit after being priced out by Napoli

Chelsea may end their pursuit of Belgium international Dries Mertens, after failing to meet his asking price.

Starsport understands that Chelsea have had a bid of around £5m for Mertens turned down by Napoli and could be set to end their interest over the Italian club’s valuation of the 32-year-old, which they regard as unrealistic.

Mertens is a free agent in the summer and his club want around three times what the Blues are currently prepared to offer.

The Belgium star had previously been offered to Arsenal but could now be set to stay at Napoli.

That has implications for Olivier Giroud after Lazio opened talks to sign the Frenchman, who is also on Tottenham’s radar, as Chelsea may not sanction his exit unless they can sign a striker.

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Blues boss Frank Lampard has been open about his desire to strengthen the club’s forward options, admitting that the summer transfer ban hurt their ability to effectively replace Eden Hazard.

“We got a punishment in the summer and it is meant to hurt you,” Lampard said. We lost one of the biggest players in our history in Eden Hazard. That is the situation.

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“My job is to work every day on the training ground to make the players better. The other part is looking at how we can move forward by bringing in players.

“We lost ground last summer and we need to make moves now to take us forward. I have a strong feeling of where we can improve personnel-wise to take us forward.

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“So for me it’s clear. The money of it is not my job but I have to be honest and truthful. Short-term recruitment is something we have to get right.”

Chelsea have also been linked with moves for PSG hitman Edinson Cavani, AC Milan forward Krzysztof Piatek and Real Madrid’s Luka…