Napoli forward Dries Mertens is unharmed after his private plane slid off the runway while landing at Deurne airport in Antwerp.
Mertens returned to his native Belgium over the weekend to see a specialist regarding the ankle injury that is keeping him out of Wednesday evening’s Coppa Italia semi final first leg against Atalanta.
The forward’s left ankle is yet to properly heal following a sprain sustained against Inter on 16 December.
As his plane touched down in Antwerp ahead of the visit to the specialist, Het Nieuwsblad report that the pilots were unable to keep the plane on the runway amid the heavy rain, and it slid into the grass of the safety zone.
Fortunately, Mertens and his dog Juliette – the only two passengers on board the private flight – were both unharmed.
“We were called up on Saturday evening around 9.20pm to provide assistance,” a member of staff at the Antwerp fire brigade said. “We pulled the aircraft back onto the runway with two technical vehicles.”
“At the moment the aircraft is in a hangar in Antwerp under the control of the approved maintenance organisation for this type of aircraft,” said a spokesperson from the airline Jung Sky, who confirmed that there was only one passenger on the flight. “An official investigation is underway and we will get more information about the causes in the coming days.”
Mertens had briefly returned to action following the ankle injury sustained in mid December, playing through painkiller injections and coming off the bench during Napoli’s 6-0 victory over Fiorentina and 3-1 defeat to Verona.
However, he missed his side’s recent 2-0 win against Parma after his ankle flared up again. He has missed six Serie A games thus far as a result of the injury.
Prior to his ankle problem, Mertens had played 21 times for Napoli in all competitions this season, chipping in with five goals and seven assists.