Mertens: ‘If Napoli don’t beat Arsenal…’

Dries Mertens is glad Napoli picked Arsenal in the Europa League quarter-final. “If you don’t win games like this, you don’t deserve to lift the trophy.”

The first leg will be in London on April 11, with the decider at the Stadio San Paolo on April 18.

“We are happy with the draw, as it’ll be difficult, but if you don’t win games like this, then you don’t deserve to lift the trophy,” Mertens told Radio Kiss Kiss.

“We faced Arsenal when Rafa Benitez was the Coach, but the team has grown so much since then. We lost some players, but brought in others, while gaining experience. We’re stronger now.

“Napoli had a good Champions League group phase, especially against Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain, so we ought to have faith in ourselves.”

Mertens has taken to pinching teammate Arkadiusz Milik’s nose after he scores a goal, but the Belgian hasn’t found the net since a 3-2 Serie A victory over Bologna on December 29.

“It is a bit annoying, but I’m not a hitman and I never was. I used to play on the wing and that only changed over the last couple of years.

“I don’t live for the goal like Arek, as he’s really hungry to score. As far as I am concerned, an assist or playing for the team has always been more important.”

Mertens has been particularly impressed by another Napoli teammate, midfielder Fabian Ruiz, who just earned a Spain call-up.

“I’m happy for him. He was a little shy when he first arrived in Naples, but I helped open up his mind. I am sure that in two or three years, he’ll be playing for an even bigger club. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”