Radja Nainggolan: Premier League? I’m happy at Roma

Corriere Dello Sport (Guido D’Ubaldo) Radja Nainggolan is a man of his word. From the Belgium training camp, he has asked the club not to sell him. He is one of the jewels in the crown who risk being sold in the next transfer window, but he’s already made his choice, which is a lifestyle choice. “I’m very happy in Rome, my family is happy and the weather is usually good as well. Sometimes choices are made for money, others are made for the quality of life, and that’s important for me as it’s something you can’t replicate somewhere else. What’s more, if I was to go and play in England I’d have to start again from scratch, when I’m currently very happy in Rome. You never know what can happen in the future though.” Nainggolan is waiting for a call from Roma to improve his contract and thereby lower the possibility of going to earn a lot more in China, but he certainly isn’t lacking offers. “I’m not thinking about it at the moment, but you can never say no at this point. You have to evaluate it at the right time.” His agent Alessandro Beltrami is in close contact with the Giallorossi directors, who have assured him that they will honour their promise of an improved contract, even though there’s no urgent rush given that his contract expires in 2020. Up until now there has been no call from them, but Nainggolan is open to earning a lower wage than he is being offered in England in order to stay at Roma. He is also happy to wait until the end of the season to hear from the club. He wants to win at Roma, he has an excellent relationship with Spalletti, who is unable to do without him. The 2 got along immediately and the connection between them goes beyond the football pitch: they are 2 strong characters who get along perfectly. 

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This has been his best season so far since joining the Giallorossi. The change of position, from centre midfielder to trequartista, has underlined his qualities. He has already broken his own goalscoring record, 9 in the league and 12 overall, but he has also become a specialist in breaking up the opposition’s attacks despite playing in a more advanced role: this season he has recovered the ball 33 times in the opposition’s own third of the pitch, making him the player who has won back the most possession in the top 5 European leagues. He is happy with the new role that Spalletti has given him, and he has even taken on a new position in the dressing room as he has played many more games wearing the captain’s armband. He doesn’t play in the same advanced role with Belgium as he does at Roma though. “It’s true that I have a more attacking role at Roma and goals increase your value. This year I’ve scored more. I played well at Cagliari as well, but I didn’t stand out in the same way.”

He has admitted that he smokes and this has created a few problems for him in the Belgium setup. “Everyone knows about my vice by now and I’m not ashamed of it. But I was very disappointed to see that I wasn’t called up again after my good performances at the European Championships. I’m someone who says how he feels, and I don’t speak in half-truths. I still haven’t found out why I was excluded, I don’t know what I did wrong, but the coach is the boss and makes his own decisions, and I have to accept them.” He was also left disappointed with the World Cup in Brazil. “It was always my aim to play for the national team. In 2014 I was on the verge of going to the World Cup, and it really hurt me when I was left out. Fortunately I am busy with other things outside of football and this helped me past my disappointment. Battling has been a bit of a theme throughout my career. I left for Italy when I was a young boy, and in my early years no one knew who I was. I had everything to prove. Starting from the beginning again isn’t easy.”

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