In 2016 we wrote (a lot) about Antonio Conte’s burning need for Radja Nainggolan in our midfield.
In 2017 we wrote (some more) that the deal might not be dead.
In 2018 we wrote that he might yet leave Roma.
Just the other day, Eden Hazard listed Nainggolan as his second-choice among Belgium national team players he would love to play with at Chelsea (first was De Bruyne of course).
We should have listened all the way back in April of 2016.
”I will stay, I’m not moving from here. I’m happy in Rome, I don’t want to leave.”
-Radja Nainggolan; Source: Sky Italia via Goal
This week the 29 year-old Belgium international, in an interview with Sport Voetball Magazine, gave perhaps his longest explanation yet for why he passed up a chance to play for Chelsea.
In a phrase, he couldn’t give up la dolce vita, the sweet life of Roma.
“I was able to go to Chelsea, but also to other teams ... But on my 28th, 29th year somewhere else again, in a new culture, a different lifestyle, that’s nothing for me. I prefer to stay where I feel good...”
Some people like to say that money isn’t everything but don’t necessarily believe it.
Nainggolan lives it.
“If money had been my motivation, I’d changed clubs several times and my wages had already gone up several times.
“My main motivation is good living. You have to be happy and you have to be happy to play where you are. I have both here.
“Everything is perfectly matched. My family is doing well here. There are many good restaurants, it is nice to shop. If friends or family come to visit, you can send them anywhere.
Heck, now I want to move to Rome. He talked me into it.
Given his obvious love for the Italian capital, it’s no surprise that they love him right back.
“The club is also me. The supporters are behind me. I have given a lot on the field, I get a lot of respect for that.
“As a footballer, that is one of the best things you can get. (...) I grew up in Antwerp, but I became a man in Italy. As it stands now, I see myself living in Rome later and having a second residence in Antwerp. “
-Radja Nainggolan; source: Sport Voetball Magazine
Here’s the thing, though.
Nainggolan isn’t having a great goal-scoring season. In 28 games he has just two goals and five assists. That’s compared to 9 and 13 the year we tried hard to get him, and 14 goals and 5 assists last season.
Still, it’s been a while since we had a mohawk in our midfield. It would have been nice to have one again.