Wealthy Top 14 club owner makes Zach Mercer revelation amidst transfer rumours

Jared Wright
Gloucester's Zach Mercer skips away from a tackle from Leicester Tigers' Tommy Reffell during the Gallagher Premiership match at Mattioli Woods Welford Road Stadium

Zach Mercer in action for Gloucester in the Premiership Rugby clash against Leicester Tigers.

Gloucester back-rower Zach Mercer has been the subject of transfer rumours recently after successive snubs from England head coach Steve Borthwick.

Mercer returned to the Premiership this season after a successful stint at Montpellier as he looked to revive his international career.

However, outside of attending a training camp in the build-up to the World Cup, he has been overlooked by England selectors who favoured Billy Vunipola and Ben Earl for number eight number over the nine months.

This has piqued the interest of Top 14 clubs, who are eager to lure him back to France, where he was crowned MVP of the season in 2021/22 when he helped Montpellier to their maiden title.

Interest from across the Channel

While his former employers reportedly approached him about a potential return, they are believed to have been rebuffed and turned their attention to Vunipola instead.

With Mercer only returning to the West Country this season, signing for his ex-team Bath’s rivals Gloucester, it is reported that the Cherry and Whites have placed a mega price tag on buying him out of his contract.

That also hasn’t swayed potential suitors, with Toulon interested in adding the Englishman to their payroll. These aren’t just rumours, with club owner Bernard Lemaitre confirming their interest.

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However, he added that there are complexities in securing his signature.

“Who doesn’t dream of this type of player who, in addition to his tank profile, plays behind him, livens up and accelerates the game? It’s rare,” Lemaitre told var-matin.

“It is therefore, normal that we are interested in him. Now, there are two or three years left on the contract with Gloucester, which makes things difficult.”

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Other Toulon recruits

The Toulon president revealed that the team are looking to add two or three more players to their squad ahead of the 2024/25 season with a centre high on their priority list with Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu joining Sale Sharks to fill Manu Tuilagi’s void.

Speaking on the potential recruits, he added: “The player that makes me dream? There are two or three. Some young, even very young and a confirmed foreign player. On the other hand, it is certain that we will seek to fill the centre.”

Toulon were reportedly eager to sign Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks centre Andre Esterhuizen from Harlequins, but the South African instead decided to return to his homeland, rejoining the Sharks.

Lemaitre also revealed that Duncan Paia’aua’s future is up in the air with his partner living in London.

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