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Napoli looking to extend Jorginho & Dries Mertens during winter break

Napoli appear to be planning on using the pause in the league season to take care of some off-the-pitch business.

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Napoli have a few players who could use a new contract sooner rather than later, or risk having to sell them before the players lose value or walk away entirely. Among them are Jorginho and Dries Mertens, two key cogs in the team's resurrection this season -- and according to reports in Italy, both players are set for extensions during the winter break.

Both players' agents have been agitating in the press pretty much all season long for their clients to get an extension, and frankly it makes too much sense for Napoli to hold onto them for it not to happen. Both Mertens and Jorginho are signed through 2018 -- two and a half more seasons -- and Napoli need to get them signed long-term before the end of the season or face the dilemma of whether or not they should sell their players next summer while they still have full leverage, or run the risk of losing them for a lower fee the next year, or losing them for nothing at all the year after.

Fortunately, Napoli have plenty of time to work with Jorginho and Mertens, with the two week winter break affording them lots of time to work on contracts for the duo, and likely others as well. Jorginho and Mertens have to be the priority, though, as they're both crucial to how this team is currently constructed. Jorginho is at the heart of Napoli's midfield with his deep-lying playmaking role, one he's absolutely excelled in most of this season -- his sending off on Sunday aside, anyways.

For Mertens' part, he's Napoli's key attacking reserve, and has been a huge part of their success so far this season in the Europa League and Coppa Italia because of his ability to step into the lineup and not miss a beat, no matter how much or how little he has played lately. He deserves and has earned more playing time than he's gotten, but Mertens hasn't complained a bit about, possibly because of his success within the team, and possible because of how much he's come to love the city.

Re-signing the duo needs to be a priority for Napoli, as well as signing new deals for some of the other players whose contracts expire in 2018. Among them are Faouzi Ghoulam, Jose Callejon, Marek Hamsik, and Gonzalo Higuain, plus a couple of likely lower-priority players in Christian Maggio -- who is likely to leave or retire after this season -- and Rafael Cabral. There are a couple of guys whose contracts are up in 2017 is well that Napoli will need to make decisions on soon -- Raul Albiol and Omar El Kaddouri.

The next few weeks in Naples are going to be awfully busy.