Having money is important to the in-form Belgian, but he was not ready to sacrifice his career to make a move to the CSL

Napoli ace Dries Mertens has admitted that money is important to him, but not the extent that he would move to China at this stage of his career.

Mertens is the most in-form player in Europe

The Belgium ace has been in superb form of late and is readying himself to face Real Madrid in the Champions League, but according to leaked documents he earns only €2 million per season.

While a large salary is important to him, he does not want to allow it to drive his career direction and would not be willing to move to the Chinese Super League, where numerous stars have gone lately due to the riches on offer.

It is an attitude that saw him turn down a move east, and he puts it down to the influence of his parents.

“My father drove a bus in Anderlecht and he took me to training every day in Brussels from when I was 11 to 18. I have so much respect for when my parents did. They did not raise me talking about money and I would have disappointed them if I went to China,” he told La Libre.

“My dad reads everything about me. He is very proud and I want them to be even more so.” 

Dries Mertens Napoli Palermo Serie A

He also explained that he could “never” play with players of a lower quality.

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“My friends tell me I would have gone mad if a pass had not arrived perfectly,” he admitted. “But maybe at the end of the month when you check your bank balance you would calm down.

“If I had been a substitute, like last season, I would have gone and chosen the money.

“We weighed up the pros and cons, my wife read testimonials from people of who live there, and you about the smog and it doesn’t seem like a healthy atmosphere. So I decided to say no, and I can tell you it’s difficult to refuse such an amount. My children and even my grandchildren would not have had to worry about their future.

“We hear players saying that they’re signing for the adventure, but no-one believes them.”

The 29-year-old did confess to being driven by money.

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Asked if a big contract is important to him, he replied: “Of course, even if it sounds a bit much. We see crazy amounts going around. But it’s just reality.”

Nevertheless, when he quits football, he will take up another job.

“But I want to have freedom to choose what I want to do,” he said. “I’m not going to lay about after my career. My wife will work, too.

“If I decide to spend a month in Australia, I don’t want to have to worry about airline tickets or the fact a fast trip is more expensive. I’m sorry, but I’ve been working hard for this.

“I’d like to get to know the world because we travel a lot without seeing anything – except from hotels and pitches.”