Thursday November 2 2017
Martinez: ‘Why I won’t pick Nainggolan’

Belgium Coach Roberto Martinez explains he won’t pick Roma’s Radja Nainggolan because “he’s at his best at number 10”.

The Giallorossi man has been repeatedly left out of the Red Devils squad under Martinez, and it appears unlikely that he’ll be taken to the World Cup next summer.

“I realise that Radja is someone who is very popular,” Nainggolan told SportMagazine.

“I have to make decisions based on the balance of the team though. I think I can say that in the number 10 position, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens are the best players we have at present.

“As for Radja, he’s at his best for Roma when he plays in the number 10 role, with the freedom behind [Edin] Dzeko. We don’t really have a similar position, and when we tried it, it didn’t really work.

“His best influence is when he can burst into the box or when he can shoot from range. We tried him at 10 against Russia, against the Czech Republic and against Greece and it was never successful.

“I know that Radja is a player with enormous potential, but he’s not a player you can put as the 15th or 16th man, he needs to have an important role within the team.

“I don’t think that would suit his status, there are some players who would be satisfied being a squad player and waiting for their chance.

“Radja is one of those players who aren’t suited to a role on the bench. In every country you find players who people can’t understand why they aren’t included.

“Why doesn’t [Cesc] Fabregas get picked for Spain, for example? The hardest thing for a Coach is finding the best balance.

“The first factor you need to analyse is how the player performs on the pitch, and when you see how they function on the pitch, you ask yourself how they function off it. That parameter hasn’t been considered yet.

“Right now I can only judge what I see on the pitch and in terms of balance, players need to catch my attention.

“My job is to assemble the best squad possible and for that I have to receive signals from players to influence my selection.”