Date of Birth: - 6th May 1987
Nationality: - Belgian
Height: - 5ft 7inches
Position: - Winger (predominantly Left, but is also right-footed so can easily switch).
Club History: - Gent
- Eendracht Aalst (Loan)
- AGOVV (Loan)
- PSV Eindhoven
Linked With: - Liverpool FC
- Bayern Munich
Estimated Market Value: - In January 2012 it was roughly 15million Pounds, however due to his current season it seems to be increasing by the week. I suspect the fee would be around 20million by the summer of 2012.
Whilst playing for his school in a (youth) match, Mertens was scouted by the Belgian youth academy of Anderlecht. After spending a year there, at the age of 16 he still wasn't able to work his way up through the ranks (to play for the reserve side etc) and decided to leave to move to local side AA Gent. After playing in the youth academy, Mertens was soon able to work his way through after showing promising talent, and earnt the right to play for the reserve side of Gent.
After showing even more capabilities in the reserve side, Mertens was then promoted to the first team and made 4 appearances off of the substitute bench and scored no goals, which isn't overly shocking.
After being limited to the substitute bench of Gent, Mertens was subsequently loaned out with third-division Eendracht Aalst, where he was awarded the fans' 'Player of the Season' even though he only he was only on loan for the second half of the 2005/2006 season. During this short spell, he made 14 appearances and scored 4 goals, so had an effective spell.
After a successful period to Eendracht, Mertens was then loaned out yet again, but for the full season of the 2006/2007 season to Dutch club AGOVV Apeldoorn, which was his first season outside of Belgium, and a big step in his career.
After the successful loan spell at AGOVV, Mertens was then signed for the second division Dutch club in the summer of 2007.
Mertens' first (official) season was fairly limited and average due to injuries picked up by him, and unfortunately Mertens took a bit more time to settle in, which was rather strange due to the fact he'd already technically been there one year.
However, in the 2008/2009 season, Mertens became one of the most important players in the Dutch second division team and even became the captain at AGOVV, scoring some very important goals and not to mention adding a few assists. After the 2008/2009 season, Mertens won 'De Gouden Stier', an award given to the Dutch League's greatest talent.
25th May 2009 - Mertens announced he was leaving after a great season and soon after, he signed with FC Utrecht, a Dutch team in the league above AGOVV, the Dutch Eredivisie.
1st August 2009 - Mertens made his debut for his new club, which also happened to be his debut in the Eredivisie, in the 0-1 victory in the season opener against RKC Waalwijk.
16th August 2009 - Mertens scored his first goals for FC Utrecht in the home match against VVV-Venlo, where he scored a brace in the first and second half of the game. The second goal was certainly a memorable one, as he scored from a 25 yard free kick which rattled the top corner of the net and set the stadium alite, which instantly made him a fan-favourite.
Information on the spell at Utrecht is unfortunately very limited, and I was unable to locate much more. However, I was able to obtain that he made 65 appearances and scored 16 goals. The assist count was also unavailable, so judging on the statistics this period was not his most prolific, but it's also important not to judge players solely on statistics. This is supported by the fact PSV then signed him in the summer of 2011.
28th June 2011 - It was announced that Mertens had been transferred to Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven in a duo-transfer with FC Utrecht teammate Kevin Strootman for a combined total of 13 million Euros.
28th August 2011 - Mertens didn't take long to make an impact or an impression for PSV, as after just one month with the club, and the second game of the Eredivisie, he scored his first goal (s) for PSV, and also his first hat-trick for PSV against Excelsior.
Mertens started the season in the best form of his career, as demonstrated from the instant hat-rick. From the opening games of the season he couldn't stop scoring as PSV racked up a bundle of goals, and his performances culminating in a sensational 7-1 rout of Roda JC in the Eredivisie, in which Mertens scored four goals, including a penalty.
So far this season, he has been absolutely sensational, as since signing for the club he has scored 18 goals in just 26 appearances, and is absolutely destroying the Eredivisie. (These stats as of 05/04/2012).
9th February 2011 - Due to his amazing season for PSV so far, Mertens finally made his debut for Belgium in a friendly match against Finland.
Since his debut, Mertens has made 8 appearances for Belgium, playing in every single game since February, which is a most impressive feat as he's just stormed into the Belgium side with ease after spending so long without even being considered.
Gent - 4 appearances, 0 goals.
Eendracht - 14 appearances, 4 goals.
AGOVV - 108 appearances, 30 goals.
Utrecht - 65 appearances, 16 goals.
PSV (as of 05/04/2012) - 26 appearances, 18 goals and 14 assists.
Dries Mertens is a good little left winger. It's rather odd that such a right-footed player would play left wing so consistently, but one advantage of this is one hell of a powerful shot after cutting inside. He's a very pacey player and can also pull some tricks out the bag, and i've seen him nut-meg players over and over again, and just sprint past them. It's great to watch if I'm honest. However, I'm going to be honest as I always am. Although being right-footed on the left wing has its advantages, it also has its weaknesses. Mertens appears to be severely one footed, and even with the most amazing crosses with the outside of his right foot curling beyond the far post and getting assist after assist, it gets very predictable. Its either cut inside and let loose a wonderful shot or drag the ball back and whip the ball in with the outside of his foot. There's no versatility from this standpoint, and I feel that its only so long before his form dies down, and then he'll be totally predictable, thus making him seem like a worse player. I also think he lacks physicality, which, especially in the PL, is a real problem. Luckily though, Mertens seems to be heading off to Germany with Munich at the end of the season, even though it's becoming less likely, as his transfer will depend on Arjen Robben's departure. Another possibility is Marseille, but that will also depend on the departure of other players. As for Liverpool, I feel that with the purchase of Stewart Downing, the left wing position is not of priority this summer, and a move will not come to fruition. I'd personally say that he has a better chance of progressing his career with a team like Munich, with the likes Ribery etc to 'show him the ropes' with that particular league, not to mention consistent Champions League football. Overall, I'd say he's a good player with potential to go on to more, but until he works on his one-footed-ness (I know it isn't a word) and develops some level of physicality, he won't reach the tops of his game in the top European leagues.
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