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Dries Mertens, Napoli’s street dog striker, sets sights on Manchester City | Nick Ames

A striker crisis a year ago gave the Belgian winger his chance up front and the goals have not stopped since for the man Maurizio Sarri calls a ‘little animal’

In isolation there was nothing special about the goal, almost exactly a year ago, that gave Napoli brief parity in a group-stage tie with Besiktas. It was a sharp enough finish from Dries Mertens, getting across his man to stab in José Callejón’s low centre, but the headline was that they proceeded to lose at San Paolo for the second time in four days. The fact that the Turkish champions had joined Roma in putting three past Napoli at home looked of much greater consequence than a stand-in striker’s demonstration of instinct.

Related: Napoli's perfect start continues after compelling Serie A weekend | Paolo Bandini

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