Though a transfer for AS Roma’s Radja Nainggolan looks highly unlikely, we’ve seen stranger things happen in the transfer market. Chelsea’s highly ridiculous decision to pay £50 million for the then deteriorating Fernando Torres, for instance. Of course, when you get him to score a goal—against Barcelona, might I reiterate—that sends you through to the final of the Champions League, the fee is really just a number. In Nainggolan’s case though, it is only a number. The thing that he values more than numbers on a spreadsheet? Italy.
The player has spent the entirety of his 12 years as a professional in the lands of the Azzurri. As a youngster, the midfielder was one of the many that took the foreign route to establish himself as a footballer. This path is also akin to the one taken by the likes of Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku, who have all successfully been able to integrate themselves into the so-called ‘golden generation’.
During his time in Italy, Nainggolan has made his name as an explosive midfielder, but saying only that would undermine his capabilities on the ball. He was only behind De Rossi and Pirlo in completed passes during the 2014-15 season, and his shooting accuracy from long range is no surprise to the Giallorossi faithful.
Suffering from familial tragedies early on in his childhood when his Indonesian father abandoned him, he was raised by his Flemish mother, who worked long hours to overcome the heavy debts and get along in the tough neighborhood. Sadly, she passed away right after he’d signed a permanent contract with Cagliari.
Roma’s payment of €6 million to secure his services three years back seems pocket money now, as the player is reportedly seen as one of the best two-way midfielders in all of Europe, let alone Italy. For him, though, the move won’t really be about the money. He is happy at Roma.
But, speaking to Sky Sports recently, the player had this to say: “The Premier League is another good competition, but I think sometimes in life you need to make choices.
“I don’t know what will be my future but I just can say that where I am I’m happy.”
Chelsea are reportedly preparing to launch a third bid for Nainggolan after having their last bid of £31 million rejected by the club in the Italian capital, who are still mourning the loss of their other midfield gem, Miralem Pjanic, to Juventus.
Any deal seems far from simplistic, but it’s more doable than almost all the other lucrative transfers that the club’s managed to pull off over the years.