Napoli striker Dries Mertens is unharmed after his private plane slipped off the runway as it landed at Deurne Airport in Antwerp.
Mertens returned to his native Belgium at the weekend to see an ankle injury specialist who is preventing him from making the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg against Atalanta on Wednesday night.
The striker’s left ankle has yet to heal properly following a sprain suffered against Inter on December 16.
As his plane landed in Antwerp before the specialist’s visit, Het Nieuwsblad reports that the pilots were unable to keep the plane on the runway amid the heavy rain and that it slipped in the grass of the area of security.
Fortunately, Mertens and his dog Juliette – the only two passengers on the private flight – were not injured.
“We were called on Saturday evening at around 9:20 pm to provide assistance,” said a member of the Antwerp fire department. “We brought the plane back to the runway with two technical vehicles.”
“At the moment, the aircraft is in a hangar in Antwerp under the control of the approved maintenance organization for this type of aircraft,” said a spokesperson for the airline company Jung Sky, who confirmed that there was only one passenger on the flight. “A formal investigation is underway and we will get more information on the causes in the coming days.”
Mertens had briefly returned to action following the ankle injury suffered in mid-December, playing through painkiller injections and leaving the bench in Napoli’s 6-0 win over Fiorentina and 3-1 defeat against Verona.
However, he missed his side’s recent 2-0 win over Parma after his ankle caught on fire again. He has missed six Serie A matches so far due to his injury.
Prior to his ankle problem, Mertens had played 21 times for Napoli in all competitions this season, scoring five goals and seven assists.