No one in Europe provides more assists than Dries Mertens, but does he really still have a chance of being selected for the European Championship?

No one in Europe provides more assists than Dries Mertens, but does he really still have a chance of being selected for the European Championship?
No one in Europe provides more assists than Dries Mertens, but does he really still have a chance of being selected for the European Championship?
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Dries Mertens is having an impressive period in Turkey. On Sunday, the 109-time Red Devil was decisive for his team again. Galatasaray, where Mertens has been under contract since the summer of 2022, was able to win 2-3 on the field of Karagümrük after a goal and an assist from our compatriot.

Mertens, who has won three World Cups and two European Championships with the Red Devils, only continues the trend of recent weeks. In the last eight games, Mertens scored five times and provided nine assists. This also puts him at number one in the European rankings of assist providers. He collected eighteen in total, especially after New Year’s. He thus trumps, among others, Union player Cameron Puertas. This stands at sixteen assists for the Club Brugge-Union match. Despite the fact that he has already played 49 games this season, he seems to be performing better and better as the end of the season approaches.

109 international matches, three World Cups and two European Championships. Will there be another tournament? — © BELGA

Mutual respect

If it weren’t for Dries Mertens and especially his age, there would be a push for a European Championship selection. Especially because national coach Domenico Tedesco, despite the fact that he never called up Mertens, has so far only had words of praise for the Leuven native who played his last international match against Croatia at the World Cup in Qatar a year and a half ago.

“I spoke to Dries when I was appointed in Istanbul and explained to him that I would not immediately call him up, but that the door is not closed,” Tedesco said in November of last year. “His answer was great. “Even if you call the day before the European Championships, I will still come,” Dries said. He still considers it a privilege to be able to play for the Red Devils. I like that attitude.”

“I simply told Tedesco: if it ever happens again, I will come”

Dries Mertens

Ex-Red Devil in November

The respect is mutual.

“I had a very nice conversation with Tedesco, which gave me a lot of respect for him,” Mertens replied at the end of November. Extra Time. “It is great that the national coach has come to Istanbul. And he explained everything clearly. I am happy with how everything is going with the national team now. Those young guys and the older men complement each other well.”

Unlike Axel Witsel and Toby Alderweireld, Mertens has never said that he is no longer available.

“I simply told Tedesco: if it ever happens again, I will come. But I certainly understand that the young guys are more ready. And maybe even be better than me.”

READ ALSO. VIDEO. What a surrender from Dries Mertens: (ex-) Red Devil celebrates successful tackle as if it were a goal

Never whine

We know Dries Mertens from his international matches with the Red Devils as a wing player, usually on the right but sometimes also on the right. There the competition with Johan Bakayoko, Dodi Lukebakio, Charles De Ketelaere, Jérémy Doku, Yannick Carrasco and possibly also Leandro Trossard is deadly. At Galatasaray, however, he plays centrally behind the deep striker. There would be a balance with Kevin De Bruyne and the aforementioned De Ketelaere and Trossard. Not too bad either.

On the other hand, Mertens can provide experience in the dressing room and will not complain about a substitute role. Of his 109 international matches, he only completed the 90 minutes 20 times. He was given a place on the bench 58 times, of which he was allowed to come on 39 times. But never an unruly word.

The determination is still there

The determination is still there — © Getty Images

If Galatasaray does not lose to Fenerbahce on Sunday, it will win its 24th national title. Much of this will be thanks to assist king Dries Mertens

Crowd favorite

In the meantime, after PSV and Napoli, Mertens has again played football in the hearts of the supporters at Galatasaray. On Sunday, Galatasaray will receive closest pursuer Fenerbahce on the penultimate matchday in the Super Lig. If Galatasaray does not lose, it will win its 24th national title. Much of this will be due to Dries Mertens, who, in addition to his eighteen assists, also scored twelve goals in all competitions. Not losing is enough for the national title.

It would be Mertens’ second title at Galatasaray. A nice milestone for his career? It is difficult to imagine that this late bloomer, who only made his debut for the Red Devils at the age of 24, would end his career during this boom. Unless the obligations after a long football career that led to AA Gent, Aalst, AGOVV, Utrecht, PSV, Napoli and Galatasaray would really start to matter.

Tags: Europe assists Dries Mertens chance selected European Championship

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