Agnelli’s offer is ideal, yet Ciro resists: the bond with “his” city is too strong. And to think that De Laurentiis accused him of having thought only of money …
He is the last of the romantics. One of the few – very few – protagonists of football who still gives value to feelings and symbols: the shirt, passion, loyalty, rivalry, respect. Empty words for many, full of meaning for him. Does Juve offer him five million a year? Dries Mertens known as Ciro (not surprisingly), and whose son is really called Ciro (not surprisingly, not even him), takes time, thinks about it, reflects. Without saying yes. After nine years in Naples, Ciro Mertens knows what Juve represents in that city: the opponent par excellence, the one (so to speak) least tolerated. Can he, the best scorer in the history of the blue club, capable even of going beyond Maradona, put on the black and white colors, which his (former) fans see as if they were smoke for the eyes? Yet the prerequisites for starting this new adventure, although destined to be short, would all be there: money, lots of it, for two seasons; ambition, because with Juve he could try to reach goals never achieved in his career; the contractual situation, given that the link with Napoli is exhausted and he is free to go where he wants (free, moreover). Then there could also be a sense of revenge against the president who dumped him. Did you get me out? And I’m going to the team that has won countless championships.
But he, Mertens, is different. This is why he took his time, even though he knows that Juve could change their minds by focusing on another striker: he is not convinced of the choice, by signing that rich contract he would feel like a traitor. Yeah, but would he be? Certainly not. If he agreed to move to Turin, he would simply behave like a professional. In every area of life, not just in football, the professional goes where there are greater prospects for success and better earnings. Dries said Ciro is doing the opposite, inspired by his original convictions and not pushed by some Napoli fan who on social media immediately began to question the player’s emotional bond with the city.
“For Mertens it is a question of vile money”: reread today, after a couple of weeks, the sentence with which De Laurentiis actually announced the farewell of Napoli to the striker sounds decidedly out of tune. He risked making him pass for greedy, ungrateful, traitor precisely, but the story of these hours is telling us a different truth. Today, on the contrary, the Belgian looks almost like a panda to be saved in the cynical world of football. A world in which rivalry has become an almost accessory element, so much so that – for example – Bernardeschi, Chiesa and Vlahovic leave Florence for Juve and the Viola fans, bitter anti-whites, take it almost philosophically, without the exasperations of the past (remember the rebellion for the sale of Baggio?). It happens almost everywhere now. Every market choice, even the most uncomfortable, is lived with a clarity that was once unimaginable. Some people let off steam on the keyboard but many understand; the fan has now almost turned into an accountant, keeps the company’s balance under control, understands the sacrifices, the economies, often even the sales. This is also why Mertens is unsettling: he looks like a knight out of time. Will he really resist the Juve court? Who knows. But the fact that he has succeeded so far leaves you speechless. Other than vile money.
3 August – 07:42
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